country reports

Comments

Transcription

country reports
DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIES
POLICY
DEPARTMENT C: CITIZENS’ RIGHTS AND
CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
The Citizens' Right to Information
- Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States -
COUNTRY REPORTS
Abstract
The study elaborates on the European Union citizens’ right to be
informed and to enjoy their right to access information. The approach
adopted is two-fold: firstly, it aims at analysing the legal and factual
situation of the media in the EU Member States; secondly, it explores the
conditions under which the citizens can search for information of interest.
Country reports represented in their integrality furtheron build the
fundament for comparative analysis; another part of the study is
dedicated to describing the relevant European benchmark applicable to
the freedoms of the media and information.
PE 462.467
EN
This study was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties,
Justice and Home Affairs.
AUTHOR
Mr Alexander SCHEUER, Attorney-at-law, General Manager EMR
Ms Cristina BACHMEIER, Scientific Assistant, EMR
Ms Leyla ROCK/Ms Birgit SCHMEYER, Scientific Assistants, EMR
And the Correspondents of the EMR Media Network acting in their capacity as national
experts (presented in detail in annex 3 - “about the authors”)
ADMINISTRATOR RESPONSIBLE
Mr Jean-Louis ANTOINE-GREGOIRE
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
European Parliament
B-1047 Bruxelles
E-mail: [email protected]
LINGUISTIC VERSIONS
Original: EN
ABOUT THE EDITOR
To contact the Policy Department or to subscribe to its monthly newsletter please write to:
[email protected]
Manuscript completed in June 2012.
European Parliament, @ European Union, 2012.
This document is available on the Internet at:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/studies
DISCLAIMER
The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the author and do
not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament.
Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the
source is acknowledged and the publisher is given prior notice and sent a copy.
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
CONTENTS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
5
LIST OF TABLES
6
LIST OF FIGURES
11
COUNTRY REPORTS
12
1. Context and Framework
12
2. The Situation in the EU Member States
12
3. Austria
14
4. Belgium
31
5. Bulgaria
63
6. Cyprus
81
7. Czech Republic
101
8. Denmark
115
9. Estonia
127
10. Finland
153
11. France
171
12. Germany
200
13. Greece
240
14. Hungary
267
15. Ireland
294
16. Italy
312
17. Latvia
341
18. Lithuania
358
19. Luxemburg
383
20. Malta
399
21. The Netherlands
416
3
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
22. Poland
442
23. Portugal
469
24. Romania
486
25. Slovak Republik
512
26. Slovenia
528
27. Spain
537
28. Sweden
551
29. United Kingdom
569
4
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Art.
Article
AVMSD
Audiovisual Media Services Directive
CFI
Court of First Instance (now: General Court)
CFREU
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
CM
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
CoE
Council of Europe
(A/V)DSL
Digital Subscriber Line
DG
Directorate General (Europan Commission)
DVB(-T/-C/-S/-H)
Digital Video Broadcasting (terrestrial, cable, satellite,
handheld/mobile)
EC
European Community
eCD
eCommerce Directive
ECHR
European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
ECtHR
European Court of Human Rights
ECJ
European Court of Justice
ECR
Series of Publication of Decisions of the EU Courts
EESC
European Economic and Social Committee
EP
European Parliament
EU
European Union
IPTV
Internet Protocol Television
ISP
Internet Service Provider
NGO
Non-Governmental Organisation
OJ
Official Journal of the European Union
OSCE
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
PACE
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
PSB, PSM
Public Service Broadcasting/Broadcaster, Public Service Media
Sec.
Section (§)
TEU
Treaty on the European Union
TFEU
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
5
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1 AT: Main radio companies ........................................................................ 24
Table 2 AT: Main Television Companies 2011 ......................................................... 26
Table 3 AT: Austria´s largest Media Companies as publishers of daily newspapers ....... 27
Table 4 AT: Average number of printed copies and reach of the largest Austrian dailies in
2010.......................................................................................................... 28
Table 5 AT: Main Cable Companies ....................................................................... 29
Table 6 AT: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2011: .................... 29
Table 7 BE: Video consumption on VRT-websites .................................................... 56
Table 8 BE: Unique visitors per day of VRT websites................................................ 56
Table 9 BE: Turnover of advertising market in Flanders (gross, in million euro) ........... 59
Table 10 BG: Main radio broadcasters ................................................................... 74
Table 11 BG: Main television broadcasters ............................................................. 75
Table 12 BG: Main publishing companies ............................................................... 76
Table 13 BG: Main internet content providers ......................................................... 77
Table 14 BG: Main Cable/Satellite network operators and IPTV providers ................... 78
Table 15 BG: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector ........................... 78
Table 16 CY: State grant and income from advertising............................................. 86
Table 17 CY: Selective television yearly audience share since the previous report........ 94
Table 18 CY: Websites and company establishment/network operation ...................... 96
Table 19 CY: List of Cyprus media and websites ..................................................... 96
Table 20 CY: Network services providers offer the following: .................................... 97
Table 21 CY: Distribution of advertising expenditure in the media sector .................... 98
Table 22 CY: Advertising income – Share of major broadcasters ............................... 98
Table 23 CZ: Largest radio channels, weekly rating (WR) and daily rating (DR) ......... 110
Table 24 CZ: Terrestrial broadcasters.................................................................. 111
Table 25 CZ: Audience Share of TV (2010) %....................................................... 112
Table 26 CZ: Daily press ................................................................................... 112
Table 27 CZ: Internet population ........................................................................ 112
Table 28 CZ: Raking of the websites ................................................................... 113
Table 29 CZ: Advertising revenues in Czech Crowns (26 CZK = 1 Euro) ................... 114
Table 30 EE: Main radio operators ...................................................................... 145
Table 31 EE: Radio stations (Estonian-speaking) audience share/week..................... 147
6
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 32 EE: Radio stations (Russian-speaking) audience share/week...................... 147
Table 33 EE:Main television companies................................................................ 148
Table 34 EE: Daily audience share in percent from total viewing time ...................... 148
Table 35 EE: Newspaper publishers and titles ....................................................... 149
Table 36 EE: The Estonian newspaper industry sales and advertising revenues in 2010
............................................................................................................... 149
Table 37 EE: The average number of printed copies of newspapers ......................... 150
Table 38 EE: Estonian media advertising market shares in 2011 ............................. 151
Table 39 FI: Top twelve media companies by turnover 2010................................... 163
Table 40 FI: Largest private radio channels and networks 2010 .............................. 164
Table 41 FI: Top 3 TV companies in Finland and their channels 2011 ....................... 165
Table 42 FI: Top ten newspaper publishers according to circulation 2010 ................. 166
Table 43 FI: Largest publishers of consumer magazines by volume and titles 2010 .... 166
Table 44 FI: Top twelve Finnish WWW media pages 2011 ...................................... 167
Table 45 FI: Main cable TV network operators including IPTV 2010.......................... 168
Table 46 FI: Daily reach of main media 1992-2010, % of population over 12 years ... 168
Table 47 FI: Shares of media advertising by sector in 2010 .................................... 169
Table 48 FR: Main Radio Companies.................................................................... 190
Table 49 FR: National audience share of digital terrestrial television channels of June
2011........................................................................................................ 191
Table 50 FR: Main publishers of daily newspapers ................................................. 192
Table 51 FR: Main Publishing Companies of regional press ..................................... 194
Table 52 FR: Main services of video on demand on the French market ..................... 194
Table 53 FR: Catch-up TV services of the five main channels (ranked by viewing figures)
............................................................................................................... 195
Table 54 FR: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2010.................. 196
Table 55 DE: Main Radio Companies ................................................................... 231
Table 56 DE: Market shares of Privates and ARD................................................... 232
Table 57 DE: Daily usage of TV .......................................................................... 232
Table 58 DE: Audience share of selected TV channels of general genre .................... 233
Table 59 DE: Major publishing Companies............................................................ 235
Table 60 DE: Demand of video files .................................................................... 236
Table 61 DE: IPTV providers 2011 in Germany ..................................................... 237
Table 62 DE: Audience statistics ......................................................................... 238
Table 63 DE: Revenues in the range of media ...................................................... 238
7
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 64 GR: Market shares of the top 12 licensed radio stations in the Attica region
(2011-2012) ............................................................................................. 256
Table 65 GR: TV shares in Greece, by transmission medium (2011) ........................ 258
Table 66 GR: Annual % audience shares of the main Greek TV channels (2010-2011) 259
Table 67 GR: Allocation of TV advertising expenditure (%, 2008-2011).................... 259
Table 68 GR: Morning Newspapers 2011 (Sunday publications included) .................. 260
Table 69 GR: Evening Newspapers 2011 (Sunday publications excluded).................. 261
Table 70 GR: Sunday Newspapers 2011 .............................................................. 262
Table 71 GR: Total Advertising Expenditure (2010-2011) (in EURO) ........................ 263
Table 72 HU: Shares of distribution platforms....................................................... 288
Table 73 HU: Advertising market shares .............................................................. 289
Table 74 IE: Main Radio Companies* .................................................................. 306
Table 75 IE: Main Television Companies .............................................................. 307
Table 76 IE: Main Newspaper Publishing Companies .............................................. 308
Table 77 IE: Cable and Satellite Companies ......................................................... 309
Table 78 IE: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2010-2011 .......... 309
Table 79 IT: AVMS – Total revenues for free-to-air and pay-TV (million euros).......... 335
Table 80 IT: Press – Sources of income (million euros) .......................................... 336
Table 81 IT: Online Advertising Market in Italy in 2010.......................................... 336
Table 82 IT: AVMS – Audience share for each platform (%).................................... 337
Table 83 IT: Press – Market shares (revenues) ..................................................... 337
Table 84 IT: AVMS – Revenues and market shares for each operator (2010) ............ 338
Table 85 IT: Radio – Market Shares (revenues) in 2009 and in 2010 ....................... 338
Table 86 LV: Main Radio companies (national coverage) ........................................ 350
Table 87 LV: Main Television Companies (national coverage) .................................. 351
Table 88 LV: Main Publishing Companies ............................................................. 353
Table 89 LV: Main cable TV operators.................................................................. 354
Table 90 LV: Advertising revenue and shares in the media sector in year 2011 ......... 355
Table 91 LT: Main radio companies ..................................................................... 376
Table 92 LT: Main Television Companies .............................................................. 377
Table 93 LT: Main publishers of newspapers......................................................... 378
Table 94 LT: Most popular websites in Lithuania* .................................................. 379
Table 95 LT: Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV&Internet Access Providers ....... 380
8
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 96 LT: Real Income of Media channels advertising in LTL million/ Factual
advertising revenues of the media players..................................................... 381
Table 97 LU: Main radio companies..................................................................... 394
Table 98 LU: Main television companies............................................................... 394
Table 99 LU: Main publishing houses................................................................... 395
Table 100 LU: Companies and their websites, market shares .................................. 396
Table 101 LU: Providers of non-linear audiovisual media services ............................. 396
Table 102 LU: Advertising market shares............................................................. 397
Table 103 NL: Main radio companies ................................................................... 429
Table 104 NL: Main Television Companies............................................................ 431
Table 105 NL: Main Publishing Companies ........................................................... 433
Table 106 NL: Concentration of regional dailies in geographical areas (market share 2010
(%) ......................................................................................................... 434
Table 107 NL: Concentration of the market of regional dailies................................. 434
Table 108 NL: Online news media....................................................................... 435
Table 109 NL: Cable, satellite and IPTV operators of digital radio and television ........ 436
Table 110 NL: Broadband internet access providers............................................... 437
Table 111 NL: Audience statistics ....................................................................... 437
Table 112 NL: Share of advertising expenditures within the media sector ................. 438
Table 113 PL: Main Radio companies – ownership structure, main stations and market
share (15+age group) in year 2011.............................................................. 458
Table 114 PL: Main Radio Stations – market share (16-49 age group) in year 2011 ... 459
Table 115 PL: Main Television Companies - ownership structure, main stations and
market share in the year 2011 .................................................................... 460
Table 116 PL: Main Television Stations – market share (age group 16-49) in the year
2011........................................................................................................ 460
Table 117 PL: Chief publishers of selected newspapers* in the year 2011................. 462
Table 118 PL: Main Publishers of selected weekly magazines* in the year 2011......... 463
Table 119 PL: Popularity of web services (selected categories) in Poland .................. 464
Table 120 PL: The popularity ranking of portals (websites) in descending order includes
............................................................................................................... 464
Table 121 PL: Changes in advertising revenues within the media sector in Poland - 20082011........................................................................................................ 466
Table 122 PT: Main Radio Companies .................................................................. 480
Table 123 PT: Main Television Companies ............................................................ 481
Table 124 PT: Daily Newspapers......................................................................... 482
Table 125 PT: IPTV........................................................................................... 483
9
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 126 PT: Sale of advertising space by type of media (2004-2005; 2008-2009) (unit:
€ 1,000)................................................................................................... 484
Table 127 RO: Radio main players total national market shares (05/2012): .............. 501
Table 128 RO: Television main players total national market shares (April 2012): ..... 502
Table 129 RO: Main newspapers/periodicals (Brut Circulation, decreasing order, data as
of 31/12/2011): ........................................................................................ 505
Table 130 RO: Newspapers/periodicals CpA (average number of readers/issue from the
universe, descending CpA order, 29 February 2012): ...................................... 506
Table 131 RO: Main mass media websites (April 2012, monthly decreasing views): ... 507
Table 132 SK: Main radio companies................................................................... 522
Table 133 SK: Main television companies............................................................. 523
Table 134 SK: Main publishers, their titles and sold copies ..................................... 524
Table 135 SK: Advertising market shares ............................................................ 525
Table 136 SI: Top radio channels ....................................................................... 533
Table 137 SI: Top 5 TV channels ........................................................................ 533
Table 138 SI: Top 6 daily newspapers ................................................................. 534
Table 139 SI: Printed press, Top 5 additions ........................................................ 534
Table 140 SI: Top 3 free newspapers .................................................................. 534
Table 141 SI: Top 5 Lifestyle magazines.............................................................. 534
Table 142 ES: Main radio companies ................................................................... 545
Table 143 ES: Main television companies ............................................................. 546
Table 144 ES: Main publishing companies, first trimester 2012 ............................... 547
Table 145 ES: Main Spanish websites.................................................................. 548
Table 146 ES: Advertising spend ........................................................................ 549
Table 147 SE: Main television operators, their channels and audience share ............. 563
Table 148 SE: Access to media websites/types of content ...................................... 564
Table 149 SE: Most important websites used/monthly basis ................................... 565
Table 150 SE: Providers of digital TV services (June 2011) ..................................... 566
Table 151 SE: Providers of broadband access (June 2011) ..................................... 566
10
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 BE: Print newspaper market shares in Flanders .......................................... 53
Figure 2 BE: Print newspaper market shares per title in Wallonia............................... 54
Figure 3 BE: Print newspaper market shares per title in Wallonia............................... 54
Figure 4 BE: Unique visitors based on week averages of 15 July 2009, 2 August 2010 and
September 2011.......................................................................................... 55
Figure 5 BE: Turnover of advertising market in Flanders .......................................... 59
11
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
COUNTRY REPORTS
1.
CONTEXT AND FRAMEWORK
In a number of fields the acquis unionaire sets standards that have to be respected by
the relevant State institutions at national level, be they the legislature, the judicary or
the administration. In some instances, EU law will be directly applicable also in the
relations between private individuals. As seen in the foregoing part, for present purposes,
the relevant acquis does not only consist of the treaties’ provisions which have an impact
on the media and the citizens, such as Art. 11 EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, the
fundamental freedoms of the TFEU, and rules on competition, including State aid
provisions, for instance, but encompasses also a wide range of so-called “secondary
legislation” adopted in relation to audiovisual media services, electronic communications,
and so forth.
Nevertheless, a broad range of issues has not yet been dealt with at the EU level, in
particular media-specific ownership rules, protection of journalists’ sources or the
citizens’ general right to access information held by public authorities. Furthermore, the
protection which is afforded – by constitutional law and fundamental rights - to the
media, particularly public service media, to media regulatory authorities and in terms of
universal services, might vary from Member State to Member State. These aspects, but
evenmore the scope of protection in practice, is of key interest when it comes to analysis
of the national situation by the national experts engaged in the preparation of the
following country reports.
Their description and assessment of the situation at national level, both de iure and de
facto, was based on the questionnaire which the EMR had made available. Therefore, for
the vast majority of the relating parts of the country reports, it has been possible to
allocate the information providing answers to the different questions at exactly the same
point of order so as to ensure easy identifiability and comparability of the findings. As far
as the description of the market situation is concerned, for almost all Member States
relevant data for each and every market has been accessible and is portrayed in the
country reports. Some divergences can be identify, though, in the level of detail in which
the correspondents have had recourse to own recommendations relating to possible
remedies which might help overcome perceived shortcomings, mainly in view of the
design of the legal framework applicable to the media and the citizens.
2.
THE SITUATION IN THE EU MEMBER STATES
On a country-by-country basis, the following reports depict the legal/regulatory as well
as factual situation with regard to the freedom of the media and the freedom of the
citizens to access information in the EU Member States. The present chapter forms the
major part of this study; it provides a considerable level of detail on the fundamental law
safeguards implemented at national level, the manner in which - within them and
through ordinary law and codes of conduct - the media and communications order is
devised, the means available for citizens to obtain information which is of interest to
them and the sources of information via radio, TV, print, new (Information Society)
media services and electronic distribution networks.
The individual country reports, based on the questionnaire developed by the EMR, are
following a three-fold approach: after describing the constitutional law/ fundamental
rights framework affording guarantees to the media, the citizens and, where applicable,
to media regulatory authorities and the concept of universal service understood broadly,
12
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
they first examine the situation for the work of the media (“supply-side perspective”),
second analyse the situation for the citizens seeking to access information and probably
intending also to engage, in different forms, with the formulation of media output
strategies (“demand-side perspective”), and third they provide statistics on the media
markets situation which aim at enhancing the assessment of the aforementioned two
perspectives. These three sections then provide the fundament for conclusions to be
drawn and recommendation to be given by the respective national experts.
13
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
3.
AUSTRIA
This update will rely on the study published in 2004 without recapitulating its content in
order to avoid redundancies. It will point to the initial study explicitly, however, when
suitable. Where current empirical data is presented the relevant passages (in particular
those in Section 2.2.1.2.) have been drafted anew. The major structural changes of the
last years in Austrian Media Law will be discussed in the respective sections below.
3.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
3.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
As indicated in the 2004 Country Report, Freedom of Expression in Austria is protected
by Art 13 of the Staatsgrundgesetz 1867 (Basic Law). 1 It has to be noted, however, that
in addition to this source, Freedom of Expression and the Freedom to Impart and Receive
Information and Ideas (Freedom of Information – see below) are also constitutionally
protected by Art 10 ECHR as the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms has been adopted on a constitutional level in 1964 (retroactive as
from 1958). 2 This is of particular importance as the scope of Art 10 ECHR is wider than
the scope of Art 13 Staatsgrundgesetz according to the Austrian Constitutional Court’s
Case Law, 3 by reaching beyond the dissemination of mere opinions. 4
By Resolution of the Provisional National Assembly of 30 October 1918 “all censorship is
abolished as illegal because contradictory to the basic rights of the citizen”. Prior
restraints on publication therefore are not compatible with Austrian constitutional law;
regardless of the medium concerned, or the object pursued by the prohibitory action.
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
Freedom of the media is not explicitly granted in Austria on a constitutional level. The
provision initially designed as special constitutional stronghold of the independence of the
media in Austria, eventually was enacted as preamble to the Austrian Media Act, 5 and
thus as part a federal act without constitutional status.
As already indicated in the 2004 report, broadcasters enjoy a somewhat special status as
the impartiality of their reporting is determined by the Constitutional Act to Secure the
Independence of Broadcasters. 6
Overall, however, freedom of the media in Austria thus is composed by a consideration of
the guarantees sketched out above as a whole.
1
2
3
4
5
6
Reichsgesetzblatt 142/1867 as adopted by Federal Law Gazette 1/1920 and State Law Gazette 303/1920.
Federal Law Gazettes 59/1964 and 210/1958.
See VfGH [Constitutional Court] VfSlg 10.948/1986.
Note, however, the restriction-friendly “Broadcast-Clause” in Art 10 § 1 ECHR whereas “[t]his Article shall
not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises”. See,
ECtHR 24.11.1993, Informationsverein Lentia and Others v. Austria, No. 13914/88 ea, declaring the
monopoly system then operated in Austria incompatible with Art 10 ECHR.
Federal Act on the Press and other Publications (Media Act), Federal Law Gazette 314/1981 as amended
by Federal Law Gazette I 49/2005.
Bundesverfassungsgesetz vom 10. Juli 1974 über die Sicherung der Unabhängigkeit des Rundfunks,
Federal Law Gazette 396/1974.
14
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Freedom to receive and to access information
Art 10 ECHR not only protects the free flow of information and ideas but also grants a
fundamental right to Freedom of Information which, according to the Austrian
Constitutional Court’s case law, encompasses the right to gather information already
publicly available. 7 A privileged position of the media is not automatically inconsistent
with this guarantee; it must, however, not be designed in a way that would exclude the
public from gathering information for the benefit of media representatives. 8
- Specific rights for the citizens
As stated in the 2004 Country Report on Austria, Art. 20 para. 4 of the Austrian
Constitution (B-VG) provides for Freedom of Information. 9
In order to ensure transparency regarding advertisements in periodical media financed
by public entities in January 2012 a Constitutional Act entered into force obliging all
entities subject to control of the Court of Auditors (in particular Federation, States,
Municipalities and public undertakings) to announce the names and the amounts received
by owners of periodical media for media cooperation, and advertising contracts, or as an
aid. 10 This Act is a direct consequence of a larger discussion on indirect media subsidizing
in Austria by political players allegedly using tax money to influence media reporting.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
In 2010 the Austrian Constitution has been amended, introducing Art. 20 para. 3 no. 5a
in order to create a legal basis for transforming the Media Authority into a fully
independent authority (Austrian Communications Authority - KommAustria). 11
 Safeguards on “universal service”
The Austrian Constitution contains no provision in respect of the “universal service”.
7
8
9
10
11
VfGH [Constitutional Court] VfSlg 11297/1987.
VfGH [Constitutional Court] VfSlg 13.577/1993.
As deriving from this obligation of authorities on the federal, state and the municipal level to impart
information about matters pertaining to their respective competence, cf. the “Duty to Grant Information
Act”, Federal Law Gazette 287/1987 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 158/1998, and the
“Fundamental Act on the duty to grant Information“ (federal framework legislation), Federal Law Gazette
286/1987 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 158/1998; both available in a translated version at <
http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Englische-Rv/ >.
Bundesverfassungsgesetz über die Transparenz von Medienkooperationen sowie von Werbeaufträgen und
Förderungen an Medieninhaber eines periodischen Mediums (Constitutional Act on Media Cooperation and
Aid), Federal Law Gazette I 125/2011. A Federal Act implementing the standards defined in the
Constitutional Act on Media Cooperation and Aid will enter into force by July 2012, see Federal Law
Gazette I No 125/2011, § 7.
Federal Law Gazette I 50/2010.
15
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
3.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
The “Federal Act on the Press and other Publication Media” (Media Act) provides the
foundation of media regulation in Austria. 12 It does, on the one hand, however, in its
entirety not apply to all media 13 and is, on the other hand, supplemented by several
specific regulations on private radio broadcasting, audio-visual media, and public
broadcasting.
For the area of broadcasting the Austrian legal system provides for a “Dual Broadcasting
Order” – a coexistence of public and private broadcasting corporations. While structure
and organization of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) are quite narrowly
determined by the ORF Act, 14 the Austrian legislator does rely to a greater extent on
competition between the broadcasters in the private sector, providing a more generous
framework for their activities according to the Audiovisual Media Services Act (see below)
and the Private Radio Broadcasting Act. 15
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
In order to comply with the requirements of the Audiovisual Service Directive the Federal
Act on Audiovisual Media Services (Audiovisual Media Services Act) was enacted in
2010. 16 Henceforth
 television services by means of wireless terrestrial transmission (ORF being an
exception), via satellite and in electronic communications networks,
 the provision of other audiovisual media services,
 and the operation of multiplex platforms
are subject to the requirements stated in this Act.
Accordingly any person who intends to provide terrestrial and mobile terrestrial television
or satellite television and is established in Austria must comply with the requirements
thus stated. Licenses will regularly be granted by the Austrian Communications Authority
(Kommunikationsbehörde Austria, KommAustria) for a period of 10 years and do concern
both the approval of the programming that has been applied for and the determination of
the area and channels of supply. Cable TV broadcasting or the retransmission of
programmes only requires notification with the Austrian Communications Authority
whereas satellite broadcasters based in Austria have to be licensed by the Authority.
The regulation of private terrestrial, satellite or cable radio broadcasting is subject to the
Private Radio Broadcasting Act. Private terrestrial and satellite radio broadcasting
requires licensing by the Austrian Communications Authority.
12
13
14
15
16
Federal Law Gazette 314/1981 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 131/2011. A translated version may
be downloaded at http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Englische-Rv/.
As the term „media“ is quite broadly defined as “any means for publication of information or
representation of thoughts by means of word, writing, sound or image, to a major audience by means of
mass production or mass publication”.
Federal Law Gazette I 83/2001 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 126/2011.
Federal Act enacting provisions for private radio broadcasting, Federal Law Gazette I 20/2001 as amended
by Federal Law Gazette I 50/2010.
Federal Law Gazette I 84/2001 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 50/2010. A translated version may
be downloaded at http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Englische-Rv/.
16
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Cable radio broadcasting requires notification with the Authority only.
Regarding the ORF’s mandate, § 4 of the ORF Act stipulates that ORF shall ensure in
particular:

comprehensive information on all important political, social, economic, cultural
and sports-related issues;

promotion of understanding for all questions of democratic society;

promotion of Austrian identity from the perspective of European history and
integration;

promotion of understanding for European integration;

presentation and promotion of arts, culture and sciences;

due regard for, and promotion of, Austrian artistic and creative productions;

presentation of varied cultural programmes;

presentation of entertainment;

due regard for all age groups;

due regard for the causes of disabled people;

due regard for the causes of families and children and for the equal treatment of
women and men;

due regard for the importance of legally recognised churches and religious
communities;

dissemination and promotion of public and youth education with special emphasis
on school and adult education;

information on issues relating to health, and to nature, environmental and
consumer protection, having regard to the promotion of understanding of the
principles of sustainability;

promotion of public interest in active involvement in sports;

information on importance, function and duties of the federal state and promotion
of regional identities of the states;

promotion of understanding of economic issues;

promotion of understanding of questions of European security policy and
comprehensive national defence

due regard for and promotion of social and humanitarian activities, including
raising awareness of the integration of disabled people into society and the labour
market.
17
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In creating its programmes and services, the ORF shall also ensure an objective selection
and presentation of information in the form of news and reports, the submission and
presentation of commentaries, viewpoints and critical statements with due regard for the
variety of opinions represented in public life, self-produced commentaries, analyses, and
presentations with due regard for the principle of objectivity.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
The Media-Concentration Framework according to the Federal Cartel Act has been
outlined in the 2004 Study. In addition to these general regulations, media-specific
competition-law requirements, such as a restriction on television advertising for
periodical print media, 17 or the prohibition to include cost-free give-aways in periodical
print media exist. 18
-
Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
As indicated above, as well as in the 2004 Study, the Austrian Broadcasting Cooperation
(ORF) was established by the ORF Act which provides the legal framework for its
activities.
Regarding the ORF’s performance criticism of excessive influence exercised by the
political parties has been frequent in recent years. However, the ORF’s editorial staff may
be said to be held in high esteem by the general public due to its critical demeanor and
strong sense of journalistic independence and impartiality (which is conferred on them as
a duty according to § 4 para. 6 ORF Act). In addition, it may be assumed that public
awareness regarding problems that arise concerning the dangers of political interference
in media activity gradually increases. 19
According to § 4a ORF Act the General Director set up a quality assurance system
defining criteria and procedures to ensure that the core public mandate given is complied
with, particularly taking into account the independence and self-responsibility of all
programming staff, the free exercise of the journalistic profession and the autonomy and
self-responsibility of the Directors and Regional Directors. The quality assurance system
was approved by the Foundation Council in May 2011. 20
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
Licensing according to the Private Radio Broadcasting Act and the Audiovisual Media
Services Act is subject to the decision/supervision of the Austrian Communications
Authority (KommAustria).
Inter alia, the Public Value Review Board has been established within the Austrian
Communications Authority in order to evaluate whether new ORF services are to be
considered appropriate for the effective fulfilment of the ORF’s core public mandate. The
17
18
19
20
Cf. § 14 para 8 Federal Act on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF-Act), Federal Law Gazette No
379/1984 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I 15/2012.
§ 9a Unfair Competition Act, Federal Law Gazette No 448/1984 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No
136/2001.
An assumption that may also be suggested by the fact that a recent attempt of alleged political exertion of
influence on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (filling the position of the director general’s head of
office with a candidate who had close ties to one of the governing parties) has been successfully thwarted
by protests of ORF journalists and the larger public.
A German Version of the quality assurance system report may be downloaded at
http://zukunft.orf.at/show_content2.php?s2id=176.
18
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
KommAustria is also the supervisory body on the funding determined necessary for the
ORF.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
The rationale and content of the Austrian Freedom of Information Laws have been
outlined in the 2004 Study.
Defamation, libel, slander, insult and ridicule claims against media owners in case such
an offence is committed in a media are subject to a rather complex and detailed
regulation. According to § 6 Media Act in a large variety of cases such claims must not be
raised, in particular if the published statement is true or if the public had a predominant
interest in the publication and, according to standards of journalistic diligence, 21 there
was sufficient reason to take the statement for true. 22 The amount of the damages
awarded in such a procedure depends on the scope and the effects of the publication, in
particular on the type and circulation of the media. The preservation of the economic
basis of the media owner is to be respected. In any event the indemnity must not exceed
€ 20,000 in case of a defamation or particularly serious effects of libel or slander the
maximum is € 50,000.
Media owners, editors, copy editors and employees of a media undertaking or media
service have the right to refuse answering questions concerning the person of an author,
sender or source of articles and documentation or any information obtained for their
profession in a proceeding before court or an administrative authority which must not be
circumvented by requesting the person enjoying this right to surrender documents,
printed matter, image, sound or data carriers, illustrations or other representations of
such contents or confiscating them (§ 31 Media Act).
According to § 2 of the Media Act each editor has the right to refuse contributing to the
creation of contents of feature articles or representations that are in contradiction to
what he is convinced of regarding fundamental issues or that are in contradiction to the
principles of the journalistic profession, unless what he is convinced of is in contradiction
to the basic line of the media product published (§ 25 Media Act). The technical editing of
feature articles or of representations of others and the editing of news, however, must
not be refused. A justified refusal must not result in any disadvantage to the editor.
If an article or a representation is modified as to its meaning, publication accompanied by
the name of the copy editor is subject to his consent; quoting the name of the author
being equivalent to quoting a pseudonym or code (e.g. initials, abbreviation) generally
known to be used by him (§ 5 Media Act).
Labor conditions of those employed in the media are basically governed by general
Austrian labor law. In addition to that the “Journalist Act” applies to those employed as a
principal occupation by a newspaper, writing texts, or drawing images and to the
principal employees of a news agency, a broadcasting company or a film company,
21
22
Considering in particular the gravity of the allegation that has been raised – cf. i.a. the judgement of the
Vienna Federal Appeals Court, 18 Bs 313/96, and the judgment of the Austrian Supreme Court, 6 Ob
168/97t.
See Austrian Supreme Court, 1 Ob 4/87 – the press is only committed to truthfulness (and thus not to
objective truth).
19
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
entrusted with the design of the text or the production of motion pictures about current
events. 23
§ 9 of the Austrian Media Act states a right to reply (obligation to publish “counterstatements”): Each person or legal entity (authority) not only generally affected by facts
published in a periodical media product is entitled to request publication of a counterstatement in such media free of charge, unless such counter-statement is not true or its
publication is not otherwise excluded. A counter-statement has to state in a concise
manner that and to what extent the information is incorrect or incomplete and the
respective reason. It must either state the correct facts as opposed to the way they were
published or add an essential item to the facts published or otherwise refer directly to the
facts as published and state what was published in a wrong or misleading way. Its length
must not disproportionately exceed the original publication. It must be published in the
same language as the publication it refers to.
In addition – according to § 10 of the Media Act – a person who has been reported to be
suspected of having committed an offence punishable by the courts or that criminal
proceedings have been instituted against her, is entitled to publication of the fact that
the proceedings have been withdrawn or terminated by a decision not pronouncing any
sentence.
The publication requirement is subject to various exceptions stated in § 11 of the Media
Act, in particular a publication of the counter-statement may be refused if its publication
would constitute an offence punishable by the courts or an intrusion into somebody’s
strictly personal sphere (§ 11 para 2 Media Act).
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
In order to further a pluralistic media landscape as well as public value in the print media
and the broadcasting sector, several funding schemes have been created, the Federal
Press Subsidies Act (overall subsidies of close to € 20,000,000 p.a in the last years),
abetting (comparatively) high-circulating daily and weekly periodicals being of the
greatest importance. 24
In addition funding efforts abetting public political education or the Austrian film sector
have been created. 25
Private and non-commercial broadcasters are being publicly subsidized by the PrivateBroadcast Funds and the Non-Commercial-Broadcast Funds.
In addition a reduced VAT applies to the periodical print media, movie screenings, and
broadcasting services. 26
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Political advertising is not explicitly regulated. Concerning the ORF such advertising is
regarded to be prohibited; in particular against the background of the manifold provisions
23
24
25
26
State Law Gazette No 88/1920 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No 102/2007.
Federal Press Subsidies Act, Federal Law Gazette I No 136/2004 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No
42/2010.
See the, the Federal Journalism Subsidies Act, Federal Law Gazette No 369/1984 as amended by Federal
Law Gazette I 22/2012, and the Austrian Film Subsidies Act, Federal Law Gazette No 557/1980 as
amended by Federal Law Gazette I No 170/2004.
See § 10 para 2 VAT Act, Federal Law Gazette No 663/1994 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No
135/2009.
20
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
of the ORF Act vouching for independence and objectivity and prohibiting the
entanglement of the ORF and (party-)politics. The problem is, however, of lesser
practical importance as due to these and similar considerations § 3 d) of the ORF’s
general terms and conditions excludes political content from being accepted as
advertisement. 27
According to § 4 para 5 of the ORF Act the ORF has to ensure an objective selection and
presentation of information in the form of news and reports including coverage of the
legislators' work and broadcasts of the debates of legislative bodies.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
As described in the 2004 Study, the Austrian Press Council ceased to exist in 2002. The
Re-establishment of the Austrian Press Council in 2010 has been supported broadly
among the print media. Major players, in particular the high-circulation dailies Krone and
Österreich, however, do not participate in this body.
The main task of this self-regulatory institution is to apply the Austrian Code of Conduct
for Journalists (“Ehrenkodex”) regarding grievances concerning the press. 28 The Code of
Conduct basically ties in with the Media Act and is intended to provide a guideline for the
ethical conduct of members of the press. 29
Anybody assuming personal disadvantage by a violation of the Code of Conduct of the
Austrian Press is entitled to file a complaint either directly with the Austrian Press Council
or with one of its Ombudsmen. In the complaint procedure the Press Council serves as
arbitration panel; thus to file a claim with the courts subsequent to the decision of the
Press Council is not permissible. The only sanction, however, the Press Council may
impose is the publication of its decision in the media concerned. 30
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
Most of the areas sketched-out above are subject to the jurisdiction of the Austrian
Courts.
Legal supervision on both private broadcasters and the ORF is exercised by the Austrian
Communications Authority (KommAustria). Appeals may be filed with the –
independently organized – Federal Communications Board (Bundeskommunikationssenat
– BKS).
Decisions according to the Press Subsidies Act and the Journalism Subsidies Act are,
however, made by the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria).
Funding decisions according to the Private-Broadcast Funds and the Non-CommercialBroadcast are made by the CEO of the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting
and Telecommunications.
27
28
29
30
A German version of the ORF’s general terms and conditions may be downloaded at:
http://enterprise.orf.at/459.
For the means of public subsidization of such self-regulatory institutions – see:
http://www.rtr.at/de/foe/Selbstkontrolle.
The Code of Conduct may be downloaded at www.presserat.at.
Recent decisions of the Austrian Press Council may be downloaded at www.presserat.at.
21
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
The access to private radio broadcasting is subject to the conditions stated in the Private
Radio Broadcasting Act. Frequencies are allocated by the KommAustria. 31 Due to the yet
incomplete digitalization of radio broadcasting in Austria 32, transmission capacities are,
however, scarce. 33 Spectrum capacities have to be allocated through an administrative
decision, for the most part in the wake of an invitation to tender procedure carried out by
the KommAustria.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
Fair and equal access to broadcasting is ensured either by the Communications Authority
directly or by the requirements multiplex operators have to abide; their correct
application being supervised by the Authority.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
Must-carry obligations apply in particular to multiplex operators: when granting the
multiplex license, the regulatory authority is required, according to § 25 para 2 nos 2 and
3 Audio Visual Media Services Act, to ensure to impose that the two analogue television
channels broadcast by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (§ 3 of the ORF Act) and
the channel of that broadcaster who was issued a license for nationwide analogue
terrestrial television (ATV+) are integrated into the package of digital channels in the
respective coverage area upon request and against a reasonable remuneration, and that
a sufficient data volume is available for their dissemination, to the extent such channels
are not yet disseminated in a digital terrestrial manner in the respective coverage area.
- Role of platform operators
Multiplex operators are selected in accordance with the requirements stated in the
Austrian Digitalization Plan 34 following an invitation to tender for multiplex platforms. 35
Licenses will be granted for a period of 10 years to those applicants that best comply
with the selection criteria (such as high supply rate, high technical quality, plurality of
opinions in the digital programming, consumer friendliness). Terrestrial television
broadcasters are, however, selected directly by the multiplex operator in accordance with
the criteria stated in the Audio Visual Media Act and the requirements as specified by the
Austrian Communications Authority. 36 This selection is, of course, subject to supervision
by the Authority.
31
32
33
34
35
36
Recent decisions may be downloaded at http://www.rtr.at/en/m/Entscheidungen.
The digitalization is, however, scheduled. By an amendment to the Private Radio Act, Federal Law Gazette
I No 50/2010, a legal basis (§§ 15 – 15b) has been created for the licensing of multiplex platforms.
Licenses are to be put out to public tender in accordance with the Austrian Digitalization Plan (may be
downloaded at http://www.rtr.at/de/m/Digikonzept2011).
See above. The adoption of digital radio broadcasting has, however, been evaluated (the report may be
downloaded at http://www.rtr.at/de/komp/EndberichtDAB) and is scheduled (see below at the discussion
of the access to radio frequencies for more information).
The Digitalization Plan may be downloaded at http://www.rtr.at/de/m/Digikonzept2011.
See e.g. the invitation to tender for multiplex platform C (terrestrial broadcasting on the regional and local
level) at the Authority’s website.
See e.g. the requirements stated in the Addendum to the initial decision by the Austrian Communications
Authority (KOA 23.2.2006, 4.200/06-002) licensing the multiplex operator ORS, pp. 69-70. The decision
may be downloaded at http://www.rtr.at/de/m/KOA4200-06-02-MUX-ORS.
22
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The Media Act provides for the following general transparency requirements concerning
media activities:
Each media product has i.a. to indicate the name or the company of the media owner
and of the producer as well as the business place of the publishing house and of the
producer as well as the address of the media owner and of the editors’ department of the
media undertaking as well as the name and address of the publisher (§ 24 Media Act). 37
The media owner of each periodical media product is required to publish information in
order to make the ownership structure transparent (§ 25 Media Act).
- Accountability of public service media
According to § 21 para. 4 ORF Act the Director General has reporting obligations to the
Foundation Council.
For the quality assurance system according to § 4a of the ORF Act, see above.
- Freedom of information laws
Conform to the federal framework legislation and the “Duty to Grant Information Act”, all
entities embodied with administrative duties as well as the other public law corporate
bodies shall impart information about matters within their sphere of jurisdiction as long
as no conflict with a legal requirement to maintain confidentiality arises. In case the
authority addressed is not willing to provide the information required it has to rule on the
matter by administrative decision 38 in order to enable the applicant to file an appeal of
this decision.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
According to the Supreme Court’s case law there is a right of tenants to use a satellite
applicable also to tenants subject only to those restrictions that are set by Community
(Union) Law. 39 However, building regulations and local planning have to be met.
According to § 3 of the ORF Act the ORF, together with all regional studios, must provide
three nation-wide and nine state-wide radio channels, and two national television
channels; ensuring that, subject to technical development and economic feasibility, all
inhabitants of the national territory who are authorised to operate a radio or television
receiver are consistently and permanently provided with one province-wide and two
nation-wide radio channels and two nation-wide television channels.
Disabled or persons with no or no significant income can apply to an exemption of their
duty to pay licence fees (see § 3 para. 5 of the “Rundfunkgebührengesetz” 40).
37
38
39
40
For particular requirements for audio-visual media see § 29 Audio Visual Media Act.
See for the Federal Administrative Court’s recent case law (VwSlg [Collection of the Case Law of the
Federal Administrative Court] 17641 A/2009.
For details see OGH 21.10.2003, 5 Ob 199/03f.
Licence Fee Act, Federal Law Gazette I 1999/159 as amended by 2003/71.
23
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
To safeguard the interests of the listeners and viewers, an Audience Council of the
Austrian Broadcasting Corporation was established (see § 30 ORF Act for a detailed
outline of the functions of this body). Members serve a term of four years and are
selected either by election of the viewers and listeners or by appointment (see § 28 ORF
Act).
3.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
3.2.1.
Radio
The table below shows that to a large extent the Austrian Radio landscape is still
dominated by ORF-Stations. As indicated in the 2004 report Krone, Hit Radio is, however,
the only radio station broadcasting on a national level. Thus the table below has to fall
short of picturing the regional importance some private radio stations may have.
Table 1 AT: Main radio companies
Market Shares*
Broadcaster
Ownership Structure
Programs
Ages 10+
ORF
Public Service Broadcaster
Overall
75
Ages
14-49
68
6
36
31
2
3
20
41
4
23
30
6
10
Regional Antenne
Steiermark
Antenne Kärnten
Antenne „Österreich“ und Alpha Medien GmbH für Antenne Salzburg
Antenne
Tirol
Medieninnovationen GmbH Wirtschaftskommunikation
Antenne Wien
2
1
3
2
1
0
1
1
0
1
Vorarlberger Regionalradio Eugen Ruß Vorarlberger Antenne
GmbH
Zeitungsverlag
und Vorarlberg
Druckerei
GesmbH
90%,
Telefon & Buch Verlagsgesellschaft mbH 10%
Arabella network
decentralised ownership
Radio
Arabella
Wien/NÖ
Radio Arabella OÖ
Radio
Arabella
Salzburg
0
1
2
0
0
1
0
0
ORF
Private radios
Kronehit
GmbH
Radio
Antenne network
Österreich
1
Public Service Broadcaster Ö2 BundesländerRadios
Ö3
FM4
Total
Betriebs Kurier Hörfunk Beteiligung KRONEHIT
GmbH
Styria
GmbH
Media
24
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
LIFE Radio GmbH & Co KG J. Wimmer GmbH 25,5%,
OÖ Media Data Vertriebsund
Verlags
GmbH
9,5%,
Gutenberg
Werbering
GesmbH
5%,
Privates Radio OÖ GmbH
Nachfolge
OEG
9,5%,
Plus-City
Medienbeteiligungs
GmbH & Co KEG 10%,
Vereinigung
der
Österreichischen
Industrie Landesgruppe OÖ
5%,
Ypsiolon
Imobilienvermietungs
GmbH
5%,
RAFIS BeteiligungsgesmbH
3%,
Krüger Medien GmbH 2%,
Öberösterreichische Rundschau GmbH 25,5%
Radio
Beteiligungs
NRJ
N&C NRJ
62,9%,
Privatradiobetriebs GmbH GmbH
Radio
ID
12%,
Radio NRJ GmbH 25,1%
Life
Radio 2
Oberösterreich
3
1
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
Welle 1
Welle
1 1
Salzburg/OÖ/
Steiermark
some
in 0
Niederösterreich
and Burgenland
88.6
Der 1
Musiksender
(Wien)
1
80% Stephan Prähauser,
20% AIC Allg. Industrie
Consulting
HIT FM Network
decentralised
but
almost 100% Medien Union
GmbH
Radio
Eins
Privatradio Medien Union GmbH
Gesellschaft mbH
Energy
Wien
Ernergy
Tirol
Energy
Salzburg
Radio Eins (Stmk.)
Radio Graz
1
2
* Market Shares as reported by RMS Austria, Radiotest second semester of 2011
3.2.2.
Television
As for the Radio Sector also the Austrian television landscape is still dominated by the
public service broadcaster. A comparison to the 2004 reports indicates, however, that
this dominant position is partly declining. As pictured in the 2004 report the market
share of German (public as well as private) broadcasters is significant.
25
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 2 AT: Main Television Companies 2011
Austrian Broadcasters
Ownership Structure
Remarks
ORF
Public service broadcaster
Channel
MS*
12+
13.80%
ORF1
22.60%
ORF2
ORF
Sport+ n.a.
ORF III Kultur n.a.
u.
Information
Public
36.40%
Broadcaster
Overall
ATV
3.6%
ATV II
n.a.
ATV Privat TV GmbH & HKL
Medienbeteiligungs
Co KG
GmbH
&
Co
KG
52%,
Tele
München
Fernseh
GmbH
&
Co
Produktionsgesellschaft
48%
Puls 4 TV GmbH & Co SevenOne Media Austria
KG
GmbH
ServusTV
Red Bull Media House
Fernsehgesellschaft
GmbH
mbH
Austria 9 TV GmbH
Andmann Media Holding
GmbH
41,5%,
Josef Andorfer 58,5%
(Partly) Foreign Private Broadcasters featuring
advertising-breaks in Austria
SAT.1
Privatrundfunk- Medicur Holding GesmbH
24,5%,
und
Styria Media Group AG
Programmgesellschaft
24,5%,
mbH
Sat.1 Satelliten-Fernsehen
GmbH 51%
ProSieben
Austria SevenOne Media Austria
GmbH
GmbH
Austrian
2.90%
Servus TV
0.70%
Austria 9
0.4%
Private
Broadcasters
Overall
7.60%
programming
windows,
marketing
programming
windows,
marketing
advertising-breaks
Sat.1 Austria
6.50%
programming
windows,
marketing
advertising-breaks
Pro7 Austria
5.20%
MS Overall
11.70%
RTL
Österreich
VOX
Österreich
RTL II
Super RTL
kabel eins
MS Overall
6.50%
Foreign Private Broadcasters marketing advertising-breaks in Austria
RTL Austria
advertising-breaks
VOX Österreich
advertising-breaks
RTL II
Super RTL
Kabel eins
advertising-breaks
advertising-breaks
advertising-breaks
Foreign public broadcasters
ZDF
ARD
3Sat
PSB Germany
PSB Germany
PSB D, A, CH
26
Puls 4
ZDF
Das Erste
3Sat
MS
Overall
4.50%
2.20%
1.30%
2.80%
17.30%
4.20%
3.20%
1.90%
9.30%
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
* Adults 12+, Market share 2011, AGTT/GfK
3.2.3.
Press and Publishing
Levels of newspaper consumption are still quite high with 73.7% of the population
picking up a newspaper on an average day in 2010.
Advertising spending in the printed press continues to account for the largest part of
national spend, amounting to a total of 55.6 percent of the "classical spending". Within
this segment the daily papers were in the first position with 56.4 of the spending in this
sector and 25.5 percent of the total spending.
The Mediaprint Group is the largest player in the field of the printed press, a subsidiary of
Kronen Zeitung publishing company and Kurier publishing company with a rather
complex structure. It organises printing, distribution, marketing, acquisition of
advertisements and administration for both daily papers whereas the editorial staff is
organised in different subcompanies. Furthermore the Media Print Group accounts for
printing and distribution of several other daily papers. Via Kurier Publishing Company it is
linked with the NEWS Group, the strongest player in the field of magazines.
The second important player is the Styria Media Group. This publishing house (which is
closely tied to the catholic church) owns the Kleine Zeitung, the second largest daily
paper in Austria (distributed in the two southern provinces) as well as two quality dailies
(the conservative daily “Die Presse” and the economic daily “Wirtschaftsblatt”) which are
supra-regional with regard to their editorial concept. As regards magazines, the Styria
Media Group is in second position and it is also engaged in cost-free weeklies and private
radios in Austria as well as in the sector of the printed press in Croatia and Slovenia.
Table 3 AT: Austria´s largest Media Companies as publishers of daily
newspapers
Major Group
Ownership Structure
Titles
Mediaprint Zeitungsund
Zeitschriftenverlag
GmbH & Co KG
70 % Krone Verlag GmbH &
Co.
Vermögensverwaltung
KG (Gesellschafter: 49.5 %
Verlassenschaft nach Hans
Dichand, 49.5 % NKZ Austria
Beteiligungs GmbH Essen)
and
30
%
Kurier
Zeitungsverlag und Druckerei
GmbH (Gesellschafter: 50.56
% Printmedien Beteiligungsges.m.b.H and 49.44 %
WAZ, Essen)
98.3 % Fa. Katholischer
Medien Verein Privatstiftung
and 1.7 % Fa. Katholischer
Medien Verein
Erben
des
langjährigen
Eigentümers 85.37 % und
14.63
%
Raiffeisen
OÖ
Holding
Eugen
A.
Russ
/
EAR
Privatstiftung;
Kempf-Russ
Privatstiftung 38.5 %
Kronen Zeitung
Kurier
Styria Media Group
Moser Holding AG
Vorarlberger
Medienhaus Gruppe
Market
Share
2010*
39.0
Kleine Zeitung
Die Presse
WirtschaftsBlatt
15.3
Tiroler Tageszeitung
TT Kompakt (cost-free daily)
3.8
2.7
Vorarlberger Nachrichten
Neue
Vorarlberger
Tageszeitung
* based on the Austrian Circulation Audit (ÖAK) and other sources; market share
referring to daily circulation.
27
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Due to the launch of the two (partly) cost-free newspapers "Heute" (2004) and
"Österreich” (2006) the market of dailies changed in the last years. The largest of all
Austrian daily newspapers (total number: 18; 3 of them are cost-free newspapers) as
regards the number of sold copies and coverage still is the "Kronen Zeitung": In 2010,
this newspaper reached 38,9 % of the population aged 14+ every day. But the cost-free
daily tabloid "Heute" already ranks second, coequal to the regional paper "Kleine
Zeitung" which has been in the second position for a long time. The tabloid "Österreich"
is in third position. Discussions on whether this publication has to be considered a costfree daily continue. In the Viennese region it is (in parts) available free of charge at bus
stops and underground stations.
Table 4 AT: Average number of printed copies and reach of the largest Austrian
dailies in 2010
Publication
Circulation*
Daily reach**
Kronen Zeitung
859,760
38.9
Heute (cost-free daily)
541,249
12.0
Kleine Zeitung
301,653
12.0
Österreich (partly cost-free daily)
364,526
9.6
Kurier
176,655
8.1
OÖ Nachrichten
127,686
4.8
Tiroler Tageszeitung
99,260
3.9
Die Presse
85,647
3.8
Der Standard
91,562
5.3
Salzburger Nachrichten
78,814
3.6
Vorarlberger Nachrichten
66,866
2.6
* based on the Austrian Circulation Audit (ÖAK) and other sources;
** based on the figures of the Austrian Circulation Audit (ÖAK); ‘reach’ refers to the
Austrian population aged 14+
3.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
There are no data to fill in here.
3.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
Compared to 2003 the number of households with cable TV grew substantially from
1.279 Mio to 1.549 Mio. That is – apart from effective losses in market shares – one of
the main explanations for the diminishing share of the major player UPC. Apart from
that, as the table below indicates, the cable landscape and the ownership structure have
changed since 2003:
28
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 5 AT: Main Cable Companies
Provider
UPC Wien, Graz,
Tirol,
Klagenfurt,
Oberösterreich,
Wiener
Neustadt/Baden
Specification
cable
Outlets*
519,000
MS*
33.5%
IP TV
cable
200,000
165,000
12.90%
10.7%
Kabelsignal/NÖKO EVN AG 100%
cable
M
Salzburg
AG Land Salzburg 42,56% cable
(cableLINK)
Stadt Salzburg 31,31%
Energie
AG
Oberösterreich,
Serviceund
Beteiligungsverwaltungs-GmbH
26,13%
119,000
7.70%
110,000
7.1%
A1 TV
Liwest
Ownership Structure
UPC Broadband GmbH
(Liberty Global, Inc.)
In
Wien:
UPC Broadband 95%
Kabel-TV-Wien
Gesellschaft
m.b.H 5%
Telekom Austria 100%
Energie
AG
44%
Linz
AG
40%
E-Werk-Wels AG 13%
* various sources – UPC website, A1 TV press release, Liwest website, Kabelsignal
business report, Salzburg AG business report
3.2.5.1.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription;
media)
Advertising
market
shares
(all
The advertising revenue in 2011 amounted to a total of € 3,844,207,000.00. When
compared to 2002 the shares in selected areas changed significantly which is particularly
due to the growing importance of online advertising.
Table 6 AT: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2011:
Television
19%
Print
46%
Direct Marketing
18%
Radio
6%
Outdoor
5%
Online
6%
* Source: rtr
3.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
When compared to 2004 the legal framework governing the Austrian media landscape
has been altered in various respects. By implementing and executing comprehensive
digitalization endeavours, terrestrial television broadcasting has changed significantly.
The presence of a growing variety of broadcasting companies overall, however, keeps
redefining the Austrian broadcasting system, even though it cannot be denied that the
Austrian Public Broadcasting Company (ORF) remains the dominant player outshining its
competitors in the field of television and even more so when it comes to radio
broadcasting. By constitutional amendment the basis for the subsequent transformation
of the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) into a fully independent media
authority has been created.
29
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The re-establishment of the Austrian Press Council has put an end to the unsatisfying
vacancy of a self-regulatory supervisory body on press activities, even though it has to
be considered as regrettable that not all of the leading periodical publications did join this
institution. The recently enacted Media Transparency Act, finally, aims at providing for
disentanglement of media and political players and thus is very likely to be an important
step towards further ensuring and strengthening media independence in Austria.
The last years also have brought significant progress on the technical level: The
multiplex-standard now established in the field of television broadcasting is to be
expected to be implemented soon also in the field of radio broadcasting; thus providing
for a greater degree of diversity and competition among various broadcasters.
Still, the developments made in this regard are significant given the monopolist status
the public broadcaster ORF enjoyed only two decades ago. A fact which may also prove
to be true when it comes to the exertion of undue political influence on the ORF: rising
public awareness of the problems in this area and the recent bestowal of the highly
esteemed Concordia Award for Freedom of the Press to the editorial staff of the ORF’s
main news program for their strong sense of editorial independence provide evidence of
such a positive development.
30
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
4.
BELGIUM
4.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
4.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The Belgian constitutional framework concerning the right to freedom of expression and
freedom of the press is shaped by Articles 19, 25 and 150 of the Constitution (unofficial
translation available at the website of the Belgian Parliament).
Article 19 refers to the freedom of expression, Article 25 introduces the freedom of the
press and establishes a cascade liability system for the press (cf. infra), and Article 150
stipulates that ‘printed press crimes’ (except for those inspired by racism or xenophobia)
should be brought before a jury at the ‘Hof van Assisen’/‘Cour d’Assises’ (i.e., a court of
law composed of both professional judges and a jury of citizens, which adjuticates on the
most serious and delicate offences).
The three articles regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still
formulated in exactly the same way as in 1831, despite the enormous evolution that has
occurred in the media landscape. It is, however, generally accepted that – due to the
technology-neutral wording of Article 19 – the constitutionally protected freedom of
expression is applicable to any medium: the written press, radio, television broadcasting,
movies, the Internet, as well as any future medium.
Articles 25 and 150 are not formulated in the same technology-neutral manner, as they
use the word ‘press’ or ‘print press’. The Constitution does not contain a definition of
‘printed press crimes’. Over time, legal doctrine has constructed the following
description: ‘a view or an opinion, criminalised by law, made public by means of printed
media’. 1
The Belgian courts seem divided about the question whether the traditional freedom of
the press should be extended to new information and communication technologies. The
Supreme Court (‘Hof van Cassatie’/‘Cour de Cassation’), for instance, was already in its
judgement of 9 December 1981 of the opinion that Article 25 was not applicable to
audiovisual media. This interpretation was later also reconfirmed in its judgment of 2
June 2006. Together with some other - lower - courts, the Constitutional Court in its
ruling of 6 October 2004 however seems of the opinion that the scope of Article 25
should not be strictly limited to the print press. The unclarity about the actual scope of
the Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution has given rise to critical remarks from the
European Court on Human Rights, which in its case on the public service broadcaster of
the French Community – RTBF v. Belgium – on 29 March 2011 ruled that the strict
interpretation of the constitutional protection of the freedom of expression and of the
media conflicts with the requirements as imposed by Article 10 ECHR.
The protection of Article 150 of the Constitution does not extend to criminal opinions
broadcast through radio or television, and until recently it was quite unclear whether
‘printed press crimes’ could be committed over the Internet. In the past, several lower
courts had explicitly adopted a teleological interpretation by considering the Internet as a
1
Dirk Voorhoof & Peggy Valcke, Handboek Mediarecht (Brussel: Larcier, 2011), Part 1, Chapter 3, Section
3, p. 93.
31
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
type of ‘press’ and accepted without much hesitation that a printed press crime could be
committed for instance on Internet newsgroups or forums. This interpretation was later
followed by an increasing number of Courts of Appeal, and was finally confirmed by the
Belgian Supreme Court in its ruling of 6 March 2012.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The right to freedom of expression in Belgium is further supplemented by a number of
additional constitutional rights relating to the freedom to receive information and the
right to access information, such as:
Article 32 Constitution
Everyone has the right to consult any administrative document and to obtain a copy,
except in the cases and conditions stipulated by the laws, federate laws or rules referred
to in Article 134.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
There are no specific constitutional references or guarantees regarding press or media
regulatory authorities, but all communities have created regulatory authorities in the
television and radio broadcasting sector, while the federal powers relating to audiovisual
media in Brussels are assigned to the telecommunications regulator, BIPT.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
Not taking
access to
providers),
guarantees
4.1.2.
into account implemented EU obligations (e.g. provisions on must-carry,
major events, short news reporting, obligations for conditional access
there are no additional specific constitutional references or institutional
to the concepts of “universal service” in the Belgian media sectors.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- licensing
schemes;
publications
remit
psm;
notification
requirements
for
print
When it comes to broadcasters other than from the PSB sphere, first, it should be
recalled that both the Flemish and French communities - going one step further than the
European legislator - considered it necessary to not only impose obligations on content
providers and network operators (following the current EU division between content and
transmission regulation in the European legislative framework) but also on a third
category of actors, i.e., the distributors.
To be more precise, the 2003 reform of the Broadcasting Act in the French Community
already led to the introduction of new classifications of the different players in the
broadcasting value chain: ‘éditeurs de services’, ‘distributeurs de services’, and
‘opérateurs de réseau’. This threefold classification was maintained in Article 2, §2 of the
2009 French Community Audiovisual Media Services Act (French Community Media act).
When implementing the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the Flemish legislator also
adopted this three-layered approach, being of the opinion that the category of
distributors gained in importance in the audiovisual media landscape. The 2009 Flemish
32
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Community Radio and Television Broadcasting Act (Flemish Media act) consequently also
applies to the three above-mentioned categories of actors:
–
the ‘editors of broadcasting services’ (or ‘content providers’): those who produce
(and have the editorial responsibility over) radio or television channels or other
information services; this category of market players is subject to advertising rules,
programme requirements (protection of minors, prohibition of hate speech and
racism), etc. Depending on whether they use scarce resources (in casu frequencies)
or not, they will have to apply for a license or submit a notification;
–
the ‘distributors of broadcasting services’ (or ‘service providers’): those who
aggregate or package channels and services (either their own productions or
acquired from third parties) into various bundles and offer these to end-users; they
have to submit a prior notification or declaration to the respective media
regulators;
–
the ‘network operators’ (or ‘network providers’): those who control the technical
exploitation of broadcasting networks and provide transmission capacity for the
delivery of audiovisual media services. Operators of cable networks are subject to
prior notification, operators of terrestrial networks have to apply for an individual
authorization linked to a specific frequency.
It can be noted that, in practice, market players will often perform several functions
simultaneously; hence, they could fall under more than one of the above categories. A
radio station transmitting over the air, for instance, acts at the same time as content
provider (editing its own radio programme), service provider (offering its programme to
the listener) and network provider (operating its own broadcasting equipment). The
Flemish commercial television broadcaster, VMMa, is an editor of broadcasting services,
but is not a distributor of services or network operator (since it does not aggregate
channels in packages, nor has transmission facilities of its own; its channels are only
distributed via the cable networks of other companies). Maintaining the network and
offering programme packages to end-users are considered different operations, which
can be performed by separate entities (e.g. TV Vlaanderen for digital satellite television).
The Flemish Media act distinguishes the following categories of private radio broadcasters
are distinguished in Flanders:
(1) Private linear radio broadcasters (Article 127 Flemish Media act):
(a)
National or communitywide radio broadcasters: they offer a range of programmes
(including information and entertainment) to the whole of the Flemish Community
(Article 137 Flemish Media act).
(b)
Regional radio broadcasters: they offer a variety of programmes (including regional
information; regional cultural, sports and other events; and entertainment) to
(maximum) one province (Article 140 Flemish Media act).
(c)
Local radio broadcasters: they provide a range of programmes (including local
information and entertainment) to a city, municipality, a limited number of joined
municipalities or a particular target group (Article 144 Flemish Media act).
(d)
Other radio broadcasters: broadcasters that transmit their programmes solely via a
cable network, digital terrestrial network or via the Internet (i.e., all broadcasters
who do not use AM or FM frequencies) (Article 147 Flemish Media act).
33
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
(2) Private non-linear radio broadcasters (Article 150 Flemish Media act): they offer
radio services on demand.
The Flemish Media act lists following categories of private television broadcasters:
(1) Private linear television broadcasters (Article 159 Flemish Media act):
(a)
Private commercial television broadcasters: they offer TV programmes, and may
carry out activities that directly or indirectly contribute to the achievement of their
goal (Article 160 Flemish Media act).
(b)
(Non-profit) Regional television broadcasters: they offer regional information
(including news casts, background information, debates, election programmes and
service programmes (Article 165 Flemish Media act).
(2)
Private non-linear television broadcasters (Articles 174–176 Flemish Media act):
they offer non-linear television broadcasting services.
Private radio broadcasting in the French Community is structured as follows:
(1) Analogue terrestrial radio (Article 52 French Community Media act):
(a)
Network radios (private radio broadcasting service using a network of frequencies)
(b)
Independent radios (private radio broadcasting service using one single frequency)
It can be noted that the French Community inserted several provisions in its broadcasting
legislation dealing with ‘radios associatives et d’expression à vocation culturelle ou
d’éducation permanente’ (‘community radios’). These are independent radios mainly
staffed by volunteers with programmes focused either on information, education, cultural
development and citizen’s participation, or on musical genres that do not belong to the
most popular ones (Article 1, 42° French Community Media act).
(2)
Other private radios (Articles 59 et seq. French Community Media act)
(3)
School radios (Article 63 French Community Media act).
The structure of television broadcasting in the French Community is as follows:
(1)
Public television broadcaster (RTBF, supra)
(2)
Non-profit local television broadcasters (‘télévisions locales’) (Articles 64–75 French
Community Media act): a separate category of editors of broadcasting services with
a specific authorization regime and a special public mission
(3)
Private commercial television broadcasters (not actually mentioned as such; no
further distinctions are made).
Obligations in the area of public service broadcasting (e.g. programmes of the Flemish
public service broadcaster) should allow to contribute to the development of the identity
and diversity and of a democratic and tolerant society; e.g. programmes of the French
public service broadcaster should contribute to a democratic and tolerant society and
stimulate communication and public debate.
34
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
According to Article 6 Flemish Media act, the mission of the Flemish PSB is to reach as
many media users as possible with a diversity of high quality programmes which are of
interest to these users. The “Vlaamse Radio en Televisie” (VRT) needs to provide a varied
offer of high quality programmes in the fields of information, culture, education and
entertainment (including sports and original fiction). Quality, professionalism, creativity
and originality are of the utmost importance. There is an explicit mission to bring
children’s programmes. The programmes should contribute to the development of the
identity and diversity of the Flemish culture and of a democratic and tolerant society.
Through its programmes the VRT has to contribute to the formation of an independent,
objective and pluralistic public opinion in Flanders. Importantly, Article 6 also states that
the VRT should closely follow technological developments in order to offer, if necessary
and desirable, its programmes via new media applications to its viewers and listeners.
The public service mission and funding for it are further elaborated in four-yearly
management contracts concluded between the Flemish government and the public
broadcaster (cf. infra).
According to Article 3 of the act regulating the public service broadcaster of the French
Community, RTBF, of 1997 (hereinafter: RTBF Act), the mission of the French
Community, i.e., the RTBF, is to offer television and radio programmes to the Frenchspeaking citizens of Belgium by various means. The RTBF must provide a diverse, varied
offer, in different genres (information, entertainment, education, culture, youth …),
attracting for the widest possible audience, catering for both wide and narrow interests.
Moreover, the RTBF must also promote social cohesion, while reflecting the different
ideological, philosophical, religious, cultural opinions and ideas (also of social-cultural
minorities) in society, contribute to a democratic and tolerant society and stimulate
communication and public debate. In addition, the RTBF should make significant efforts
in creating, and favouring original productions and in valorizing the French Community
patrimony.
Given the explicit freedom of print media (Art. 25 and 150 Constitution), no formality is
required before launching commercial operations.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
A limited number of ownership rules exists for specific categories of radio and television
stations, based on the number of licenses (in Flanders) or capital or audience shares (in
Wallonia).
It is typical for the Flemish broadcasting legislation to limit control over media companies
not via an ownership share model, but through limiting the number of executive boards
of which a single person can be a member. For example: one cannot be a member of the
board of governors of more than one communitywide radio in Flanders, nor can a
member of the board of governors of a communitywide radio also be a member of the
executive board of the public service broadcaster (Article 138, §1, 2°, a Flemish Media
act); one cannot be a member of the board of governors of more than one regional radio
station in Flanders, nor can a member of the board of governors of a regional radio
station also be a member of the executive board of a communitywide radio or of the
public service broadcaster (Article 141, §1, 2°, a Flemish Media act); one cannot be a
member of the board of governors of more than one regional television station (Article
169, 1° Flemish Media act).
The VRM has the task to ‘map’ (monitor) concentrations in the Flemish media sector and
to report annually (Article 218, § 2, 8° Flemish Media act). Since 2007 VRM developed a
35
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
‘media database’, which is used for its annual reports on media concentration 2 and for ad
hoc reports in response to specific questions. The purpose is merely to enhance
transparency; the regulator cannot take any direct action in case of increases in
concentration which may endanger pluralism.
There is only one similar restriction to combining positions in various executive boards of
radio or television broadcasters in the French Community: one cannot combine
membership of the board of governors of a local television station with holding a position
at or being member of the executive board of other editors of broadcasting services or of
press companies (Article 73 French Community Media act).
In its Broadcasting Act of 2003, the French Community introduced a monitoring system
with a view to protecting media pluralism. But, as the scope of this mechanism is limited
to the audiovisual sector, we cannot speak of a genuine ‘crossmedia’ ownership
regulation. The monitoring system is installed in Article 7 French Community Media act.
This Article prohibits the exertion by an editor or a distributor of a significant position in
the audiovisual sector if this would harm people’s right to have access to a pluralist offer
of broadcasting services. A ‘pluralist offer’ is described as a wide range of media products
offered by a plurality of independent and autonomous players representing the widest
diversity of opinions and ideas possible. An editor or distributor of broadcasting services
is presumed to have a significant position in following situations:
(1)
the same person holds more than 24% of two (or more) editors of radio
broadcasting services;
(2)
the same person holds more than 24% of two (or more) editors of television
broadcasting services;
(3)
the accumulated audience share of two or more editors of radio broadcasting
services reaches 20% or more of the total radio production market and lies in the
hands of the same person;
(4)
the accumulated audience share of two or more editors of television broadcasting
services reaches 20% or more of the total television production market and lies in
the hands of the same person.
Should the case arise, the ‘Higher Council for the Audiovisual Sector’ (the Conseil
supérieur de l'audiovisuel – CSA) will have to assess the possible repercussions that this
position has for the diversity of broadcasting services being offered in the relevant
market. If the CSA concludes that the concentration of ownership interests implies a
threat to pluralism, it will start a procedure in order to negotiate possible remedies that
could restore pluralism. If the editor or provider in question and the CSA do not reach a
compromise within six months, the CSA can impose sanctions, such as fines or the
withdrawal of the license. In October 2009, the CSA launched a special website dedicated
to media pluralism: <www.csa.be/pluralisme>.
Further, in order to safeguard the specific character of each radio station,
cooperation/networking/affiliation agreements between terrestrial radio stations (and
with the public broadcaster of the Flemish Community) are restricted in Flanders. Radio
stations may only cooperate in ‘ad hoc’ cases (for instance, at the occasion of a special
event) and/or cooperation may not lead to ‘structural uniformity’ in the programming
policy (for instance, cooperation for advertising purposes is allowed, but not for the
2
Available at: www.vlaamseregulatormedia.be/nl/documentatie.aspx.
36
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
production of programmes; see Articles 137 and 144 Flemish Media act). Affiliation
agreements between local radio stations have to be limited to a maximum of sixty radios
(Article 144, al.3 Flemish Media act).
Apart from the general competition rules, which are laid down in the federal Act on the
protection of economic competition, coordinated on 15 September 2006, there are
virtually no crossmedia ownership restrictions in the media sector. This is mainly the
result of the division of powers in Belgium between the federal state (press, film) and
communities (radio and television), limiting each legislator’s scope for action to one of
these media types. In the French Community, however, there is a special rule for local
television stations, prohibiting their control, directly or indirectly, by another radio or
television broadcaster, a distributor of broadcasting services, an advertising agency or a
holding company (‘société à portefeuille’) (Article 67, §1, 3° French Community Media
act).
Some transparency provisions and limited regulatory powers (mainly montoring) on
ownership exist in the audiovisual sectors (cf. infra), but there are no sector specific
obligations for other media (e.g. newspapers) to identify their owners/shareholders (e.g.,
in their newspapers or on their website, or to a monitoring body). All media (including
newspapers) are of course subject to the general competition rules and accounting rules
in the same way as they apply to other sectors.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
Article 6 para. 1 of the Flemish media decree states that “the VRT's purpose is to provide
radio programmes, television programmes and other types of programmes within the
mandate of the public broadcaster as set forth below, as well as to carry out activities
which directly or indirectly contribute to this, including producing programmes or having
programmes produced, acquiring programmes, putting together programming,
broadcasting programmes, having these broadcast and publicising them in the broadest
sense of each of these terms”. Para. 2 adds that “as a public broadcaster, the VRT has
the task to reach the largest possible number of media users with a diversity of highquality programmes which attract and meet the interests of the media users”. The task
to provide high-quality programming is mainly relevant in the information, culture,
educational and entertainment sectors. Further, the article also states that “VRT’s
programming shall appropriately target certain specific population and age groups, in
particular, children and young people” and that programmes must contribute to the
continued development of the identity and diversity of Flemish culture and of a
democratic and tolerant society.
The public service mission and funding for it are elaborated in four-yearly management
contracts concluded between the Flemish government and the public broadcaster. The
most recent management contract (see chapters 6.1.1. and 6.1.5) states that the radio
and television offer of the PSB may be distributed through all relevant platforms,
including the Internet and mobile. Moreover, the existing thematic websites, such as
deredactie.be (news), sporza.be (sport) and cobra.be (culture) remain a part of the PSB
offer, although video is considered the most important element.
According to Article 3 of the Act of 1997 regulating the public service broadcaster of the
French Community (RTBF), the mission of the RTBF, is to offer television and radio
programmes to the French-speaking citizens of Belgium by various means. The RTBF
must provide a diverse, varied offer, in different genres (information, entertainment,
education, culture, youth …), attracting for the widest possible audience, catering for
both wide and narrow interests. Moreover, the RTBF must also promote social cohesion,
37
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
while reflecting the different ideological, philosophical, religious, cultural opinions and
ideas (also of social-cultural minorities in society, contribute to a democratic and tolerant
society and stimulate communication and public debate. In addition, the RTBF should
make significant efforts in creating, and favouring original productions and in valorizing
the French Community patrimony. These legal provisions are further elaborated in a
management contract which specifies that the RTBF must also act as a driving force in
promoting the cultural identity of the French Community in the domain of new media and
has a major role to play in the digital switchover (Articles 33 and 35 RTBF management
contract).
Both public service broadcasters in Belgium are funded on a ‘dual funding’ basis. This
entails that the major part of the financial resources originates from state funding (tax
money, e.g. around 65% in Flanders), and that the other part is derived from commercial
revenues (merchandising, advertisement on radio, sponsoring on television and radio).
Details of the state funding are included in the respective management contracts.
The public service broadcasters in both the Flemish and French community overall fulfil
their public service mission. In its 2010 report on the compliance by the public
broadcaster of the management agreement with the Flemish Community, the VRM states
that the VRT has respected the vast majority of the objectives. However, the VRM notes
that an insufficient number of television programs was subtitled: while the management
agreement states that in 2010 95% of the programs had the be subtitled, the VRT in
practice only reached about 88%.
The discussions on the public service mission of the public broadcasters also regain
momentum every time new management contracts need to be negotiated. The private
sector (broadcasters and other media) is arguing for a more limited role (and funding)
for the public broadcaster, while others argue oppositely. In the Flemish community, the
public service mission of the VRT is definitely not decreasing, since the VRT in 2012 will
receive more public funding, will start a third analogue television channel and will offer
radio and TV on all relevant platforms, including the Internet and mobile. The
management contract 2007-2011 for the RTBF has only recently temporarily been
prolonged for one year 3.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The competent regulatory bodies in Belgium are the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media
(VRM) (‘Flemish Regulator for the Media’) in Flanders, and the CSA in the French
Community, and the Medienrat (‘Media Council’) in the German-speaking Community.
The regulatory authority of the Flemish community (VRM) is charged with the
enforcement of Flemish media regulation, the settlement of disputes regarding media
regulation and the granting of authorizations and licenses, in accordance with the
regulation. The VRM is also supervising the compliance of the public service broadcaster
with the management contract with the Flemish government, and reporting about this on
a yearly basis.
The VRM is composed of two chambers: the General Chamber and the Chamber for
impartiality and protection of minors (Article 215, §2 Flemish Media act). The General
Chamber supervises the compliance with and sanctioning of infringements on other
provisions of the Flemish Media act (Article 218, §2, 1° Flemish Media act). The majority
of the decisions of the General Chamber relate to the non-observance of the rules
3
http://www.rtbf.be/entreprise/rtbf-groupe/entreprise_statut-et-financement?id=3433.
38
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
regarding commercial communication. Other tasks of this Chamber are: issuing,
changing, suspending and withdrawing broadcasting licenses; awarding, suspending or
withdrawing licenses to offer a free-to-air broadcasting network; granting and revoking
permission to distributors to transmit broadcasting programmes; receiving the different
types of notification which are addressed to the VRM; defining the relevant markets and
their geographical scope for products and services in the sector of electronic
communication networks, analysing these markets in order to determine whether they
are competitive; identifying undertakings with significant market power in the defined
markets, and imposing, if necessary, certain requirements (mentioned in Article 192
Flemish Media act); performing special assignments which the Flemish government can
assign to the VRM if required, insofar that these assignments are related to other tasks of
the VRM (Article 218, §2, 2° to 9°).
The organisation of the regulatory authority in the French community is somehow
different, since the CSA is composed of two committees (the advisory committee, the
Collège d’avis, and the regulatory committee, the Collège d’autorisation et de contrôle), a
Bureau and a Sécrétariat d’instruction (Article 134 French Community Media act).
According to Article 136 French Community Media act, the Collège d’autorisation et de
contrôle has the following tasks: taking note of the declarations of editors of services and
award authorizations to certain editors of services (except for local television and the
RTBF); granting authorizations for the use of radio frequencies; delivering a preliminary
advice to the government regarding the authorization of local television; delivering a
preliminary advice on each proposal for an agreement between the government and an
editor or distributor of services; advising on the realization of the obligations of the local
televisions; advising on the realization of the obligations laid down in Articles 41
(contribution to the production of audiovisual works, supra), 43, 44 and 46 (quota)
French Community Media act; issuing specific or general recommendations; establishing
all violations of laws, decrees and regulations in the field of audiovisual media and all
violations of agreements between the French Community and an editor or distributor of
services, of the agreement between the government and the local televisions as well as
the commitments entered into in the framework of tendering procedures in the French
Community Media act; defining the relevant markets, the operators with significant
market power, and the obligations imposed on such operators (Articles 90–96 French
Community Media act).
The VRM has a specific task in monitoring the performance of the VRT, since it has the
obligation to annually report on this issue to the Flemish government (art. 218, §2 9°
Flemish Media Act). These reports are also publicly available on a dedicated website of
the regulator: www.vrmrapporten.be. In preparation of every new management contract,
the scope of the public service mission is also advised upon by the “Sectorraad Media”,
partof the advisory council for Culture, Youth, Sports and Media (art. 20 Flemish media
Act). Finally, if the VRT wants to provide additional new services which are not foreseen
in the management contract, it needs to acquire the explicit permission of the Flemish
government after advice of the “Sectorraad Media” (art. 18 Flemish media Act).
The CSA has the task to report on the compliance of the RTBF with the obligations and
objectives as listed in its management contract with the government (art. 136 §1 5°
French community Media Act). The most recent report was published on December 8th,
2011 and is full-text available online: http://csa.be/documents/1655.
39
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
There are no legal registration or notification obligations to work as a journalist in
Belgium. Journalism is an open profession, there even is no specific education required.
The Act of 30 December 1963 on the recognition and protection of the title of
professional journalist attaches a number of conditions to the use of the title
‘beroepsjournalist’/‘journaliste professionel’ (‘professional journalist’), but – as mentioned
– this title is not necessary in order to exercise the profession (it mainly offers the
journalist some practical advantages). These conditions are: being 21 years or older; not
being deprived of political and civil rights; taking part in the editing of general reports for
newspapers, magazines, radio or television, etc. as main occupation and against salary;
having exercised this activity at least two years; not being involved in any form of trade.
With regard to the protection of journalistic sources, it should be noted that the Belgian
Constitutional Court interprets the notion of journalist in a very broad manner. In a case
related to the Act concerning the confidentiality of journalistic sources of 7 April 2005 the
Court in 2006 decided that everyone undertaking journalistic activities could invoke the
aforementioned rules, which aim to guarantee press freedom. Therefore, the
Constitutional Court decided that Article 2, 1° of the Act indeed violated the Constitution
and Article 10 of the ECHR to the extent that it denies the right to confidentiality of
sources to certain persons, namely those practising journalistic activities without being
employed or self-employed and those that do not practise journalistic activities on a
regular basis. As a result, the Constitutional Court extended the scope of application of
the Act to ‘everyone who directly contributes, edits, produces or disseminates
information aimed at the public via a medium’. This is a very broad description and
could, for instance, imply that bloggers who often publish news facts and/or opinions on
their web pages would also fall within that scope and therefore enjoy the protection of
their sources.
Journalists enjoy a broader freedom of expression than the majority of citizens, because
of the particular responsibility of the press as a watchdog of society. Jurisprudence has
emphasized the importance of press freedom for the correct and adequate functioning of
the state. This watchdog function also entails that journalists have the right to criticize
public persons and to write polemic, critical and even provoking articles. However, at the
same time journalists’ behaviour is carefully scrutinized. Critique needs to be wellfounded and based on objective indications, and cannot go so far as to constitute
defamation.
Article 25 of the Constitution not only establishes the freedom of the press. It also states
that censorship can never be introduced and establishes a cascade liability system for the
press. This entails that when the author of a publication is known and resides in Belgium,
neither the publisher, nor the printer, nor the distributor can be prosecuted. The aim of
the constitutional legislator was to prevent that a publisher would exert (preventive)
pressure on an author if there was a chance that the publisher would be prosecuted,
even in cases where the author is known and lives in Belgium. The cascade liability
system only applies to printed press crimes.
Hence, with regard to crimes which cannot be classified as a ‘printed press crime’, for
instance, broadcasting crimes, the cascade liability is not applicable and hence, other
individuals than the author might be prosecuted.
40
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
With regard to the liability of journalists who exercise their profession under an
employment contract, the Belgian Constitutional Court decided that Article 18 of the Act
of 3 July 1978 regarding employment contracts (which states that an employee is not
liable for damages to his employer or third parties caused by an accidental, slight
mistake) is not applicable to such journalists as this Article is contrary to the spirit of
Article 25 of the Constitution. Hence, in principle, it will be the journalist, who will be held
liable, and not his publisher, unless a separate fault of the publisher can be demonstrated
(e.g., making special publicity for the article concerned). This ruling has been criticised in
legal doctrine. 4
Although journalists enjoy a far-reaching freedom of expression, this does not extend to
defamatory or libellous publications. However, it can be noted that there will be a higher
degree of tolerance with regard to criticism and insults directed at certain categories of
persons, such as politicians. This has repeatedly been emphasized by case law, which
often refers to the watchdog function of journalists in this context. Nevertheless,
journalists cannot field completely unfounded accusations at politicians. Allegations at
least need to be based on a grain of truth or serious and objective indications. In
Belgium, defamation and libel is criminalized by Articles 443 and 444 of the Belgian
Criminal Code. Article 443 considers that a person who maliciously charges someone of a
certain fact, which may offend his honour or may expose him to public contempt, and
which is not legally proven, is guilty of libel (‘laster’/‘calomnie’) if the charge is not
proven, or defamation (‘eerroof’/‘diffamation’) when the law does not allow this proof.
Article 444 determines the punishment (imprisonment and fine) that can be applied when
the charges are made: in public meetings or places; or in the presence of several
individuals in a place which is not public, but nevertheless accessible to a number of
individuals which have the right to meet or visit; or wherever, in the presence of the
offended individual and witnesses; or by means of writings, printed or not, by means of
pictures or symbols, which are posted, distributed or sold, being offered for sale or
publicly exhibited; or by means of writings which have not been made public, but which
have been sent or communicated to several individuals.
It should, however, be recalled that Article 150 of the Constitution states that ‘printed
press crimes’ can only be judged by a jury (i.e. the Court of Assisen), which de facto
leads to impunity for ‘printed press crimes’. Moreover, since the Constitutional Court in
2012 extended the scope of Article 150 to the Internet, the criminalisation of defamation
and libel is caved even further. Persons who suffer damage therefore in practice need to
turn to civil law procedures in cases of defamation or libel in printed press or on the
Internet.
Individuals who suffer material or moral damage through the fault (Article 1382 Civil
Code) or through negligence or imprudence (Article 1383 Civil Code) of another
individual (for instance, a journalist) can claim damages if they can demonstrate the
causal link between the fault and the damage. In this context, jurisprudence developed
the criterion that the unlawfulness of a public statement needs to be judged from the
perspective of a ‘normal, careful and prudent journalist’. 5 Although, according to
Voorhoof and Valcke, neither strict correctness, scientific accuracy nor absolute reliability
can be required from a journalist with respect to a publication, journalists may not base
themselves on rumours or unreliable information. Furthermore, although a journalist has
a certain duty to investigate the reliability of his or her sources and the veracity of facts,
this duty does not entail that a journalist may be held liable simply because an article
4
5
Constitutional Court, 22 Mar. 2006, n° 47/2006 (with comment Koen Lemmens), AM 3 (2006): 290-295;
Court of First Instance Hasselt 4 Jan. 2010, AM 2 (2010): 215.
Dirk Voorhoof and Peggy Valcke, Handboek Mediarecht (Brussels: Larcier, 2011), 188.
41
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
contains inaccuracies. The unlawfulness of a publication will be assessed on a case-bycase basis, taking for instance into account: the context of the publication, the
characteristics of the newspapers or journals in which writings are published and the
function of individuals who have been criticized.
- Specific positive content obligations
The “Vlaamse Radio en Televisie” (VRT) has a specified mission to bring children’s
programmes.
With regard to news and current affairs programmes, a number of provisions put
emphasis on norms regarding journalistic deontology, impartiality and editorial
independence, for instance:
–
Article 29, §1 Flemish Media act regarding the news service of the Flemish public
service broadcaster;
–
Article 131 Flemish Media act regarding news casts of linear radio broadcasters;
–
Article 141, §1, c) and 145, §1, c) Flemish Media act regarding the news services
and news casts of regional and local radio broadcasters (cf. also supra, paragraph
159);
–
Article 164 Flemish Media act regarding newscasts and programmes of private
television broadcasters.
In the framework of its task to inform the public the Flemish public service broadcaster
must offer a weekly fifteen-minute television programme or a twice weekly thirty-minute
television programme to explain socio-economic issues (except in July and August)
(Article 29, §2 Flemish Media act).
According to Article 18 RTBF management contract the RTBF has the general obligation
to bring news and information regarding current affairs at international, European,
federal, Community, regional and local level, covering every domain of political,
economic, social, cultural, and sports life. This information must be objective, honest,
independent, in-depth, pluralist, complete, analytical, and must stimulate reflection and
debate on issues relevant to a democratic society.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
The government has established a number of measures to provide (financial) support to
the press. Initially, the federal state was in charge of granting subsidies to the press.
Since 1978, such a system of direct support to the written press existed with the aim of
ensuring pluralism in the press (reflecting all opinions in society) and guaranteeing the
viability of the newspapers. During the state reform of 1988, powers over press subsidies
were transferred to the Communities (Article 4, 6°bis BWHI), which have since then
established their own systems and developed their own policies. For instance, in the
Flemish Community a first agreement to safeguard a pluralist and independent opinion
press was reached in 1993; in 1998 the Flemish government restructured the system of
direct support and replaced it by a programme concentrating on digital diversification,
education, and the preservation of good, quality based and autonomous editorial staff
teams.
42
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The Flemish Government grants annual subsidies (one million EUR) to the print press. A
protocol has been established between the Government and the Flemish press sector in
which the conditions for the support are outlined. The overall objective is to ensure a
high quality, pluralist and objective press. Emphasis is put on education and training in
order to guarantee editorial skills and expertise, and on foreign coverage. In addition, the
Fund Pascal Decroos for exceptional journalism (‘Fonds Pascal Decroos voor bijzondere
journalistiek’) aims to support high quality, exceptional journalism in and outside
Flanders, both in print and audiovisual media. It grants subsidies to individual journalists
who would like to work on an exceptional journalistic project, the costs of which exceed
the normal budgetary capacities of the newspaper, editor or broadcaster. The Fund is
financed by an annual grant from the Flemish Government (usually EUR 250,000 per
year; although in 2009 a one-off extra amount of EUR 250,000 was made available by
the Minister for Media), fees for membership (currently around EUR 9,000) and gifts.
News media initiatives (e.g. www.stampmedia.be, an online press agency for and by
youngster) are criticising the fact that most of these susbidies are assigned to traditional
media.
The Press Fund of the French Community (‘Centre de l'aide à la presse écrite’) grants
several types of subsidies: (1) support for the creation of new titles; (2) support for longterm employment of journalists and use of new technologies; (3) support for the
preservation of the largest possible diversity in newspapers (giving priority to less
profitable titles); (4) support for initiatives to distribute newspapers in schools. The
Centre receives an (indexed) annual subsidy of EUR 6,200,000. 6 In addition, from 2009
onwards, the French Community Government also attributes EUR 250,000 a year to the
‘Fonds pour le journalisme’ which supports investigative journalism.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Until 2005, the Flemish Community Television and Broadcasting Act contained a
prohibition to offer broadcasting time to political representatives in return for payment
(in its Article 98, 1°). This provision was in conformity with the federal legislation on
election expenses, which states that political parties and candidates are prohibited from
showing commercial advertising spots on radio and television in the period shortly before
elections. The Flemish Media act of 2009, however, has abandoned this principle, and in
its article 49 now states that is allowed to offer (audiovisual) commercial communication
to politicians and political parties in pre-electoral periods on the condition that the federal
legislation regarding election expenses is respected, which still contains a prohibition in
the pre-election period.
In the Flemish Community, the only additional references that are still made to election
periods are in Article 34, § 5 and Article 36, § 5 of the Flemish Media Act regarding the
suspension of announcements of the Flemish government (except in urgent cases) and
the suspension of the programmes of representative societal organizations, and in Article
165 Flemish Media Act which relates to the obligation for regional television broadcasters
to provide regional information, including election programmes.
Regarding the French Community, the Constitutional Court on 22 December 2010
(judgement 161/2010) ruled that an absolute and permanent prohibition of political
commercial communication for audiovisual media (Article 12, § 1 first sentence of the
French Community Media act) could not be reasonably motivated in the light of the
jurisprudence of the ECtHR. The Court annulled this provision, thereby leading to the
6
Up until 2008, the RTBF and a number of private broadcasters also had to contribute to the fund. From
2008 onwards the French Community is the sole contributor to the fund.
43
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
situation that only the federal prohibition on political commercial communication in preelection periods applies.
Specific obligations are imposed on the public service broadcaster of the French
Community, the RTBF, to cover elections and bring news, talk shows and interviews,
both on radio and television with the aim of informing the citizens about the discussion
items and the various viewpoints (Article 19 RTBF management contract).
Other (paper based) media enjoy a much wider freedom, since they are allowed to bring
political advertising, taking into account the maximum spending as defined in the federal
voting legislation.
In practice, political advertising in the audiovisual media sector, both in Flanders and in
the French community is almost non-existent, contrary to other media (e.g. print press
and internet).
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The Belgian Ethical Code for Journalists of 1982 7 recognizes the important role of
journalists. The code was agreed to between the Belgian Association of Newspaper
Publishers (Belgische Vereniging van de Dagbladuitgevers, BVDU), the General
Association of Professional Journalists of Belgium (Association Générale des Journalistes
Professionnels, AGJPB) and the Federation of Belgian Magazine Editors (Fédération Belge
des Magazines, FEBELMA) in 1982. Regarding the independence of journalists, the Code
states that ‘[n]ewspapers and journalists should resist pressure of any kind’.
In contrast to radio and television organizations, there are no legal obligations for
newspapers to have an editorial statute. However, in Belgium there exists a tradition of
foundations (‘stichtingen’) within the (Flemish) newspapers. These foundations are
established in order to take care of the editorial principles and values (in relation to
editorial texts and advertisements) of the newspapers and the statutes of the
foundations contain explicit safeguards with regard to the editorial staff’s independence
(e.g., guaranteeing the autonomy of the editorial staff). For example: in case of a change
in the editorial cooperation with other newspapers, the preliminary approval of the
foundation is required, and in case of a change in ownership (to a shareholder or to a
third party), the vendor or liquidator has to impose on the stakeholder or the third party
the obligation to respect the editorial principles and values as described in the statutes. If
the buyer acquires the titles without respecting the editorial line, he has to pay damages.
The statutes also confer special powers on the editorial staff e.g., a preliminary advice of
the foundation regarding the appointment or dismissal of a chief editor; a preliminary
approval of the foundation regarding the appointment or dismissal of a journalist, trainee
journalist and chief editor. A substantial change in the task of a journalist (e.g., he would
be no longer linked to the editorial staff), is equated with a dismissal and therefore a
preliminary approval of the foundation may be required. Nevertheless, the Flemish
Association of Professional Journalists has called for a formalization of safeguards for
editorial independence by introducing editorial statutes in all news media; they are of the
opinion that the Flemish government has an essential role to play in that regard, for
instance, by making press subsidies dependent on the presence of an editorial statute.
From 1988 until 2001 a Council for Deontology, founded by the Belgian Association of
Professional Journalists (‘Algemene Vereniging van Beroepsjournalisten in België’, AVBB),
existed in Belgium.
7
www.rvdj.be/node/63.
44
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
In 2002, the Flemish (print and audiovisual) journalists and publishers established a
(self-regulatory) Flemish Press Council (‘Vlaamse Raad voor de Journalistiek’).
The Flemish Press Council is a fully independent self-regulatory body without any
statutory framework. It is composed of eighteen members (six journalists, six publishers
and six external members), who are nominated by the sector without any governmental
interference. The Press Council is funded by the journalists union (50%) and by the
publishers (50%). It does not receive direct public funding, but the union of journalists
receives a governmental subsidy, part of which must be used for the financing of the
Press Council.
The Press Council is considered by the sector, the audience and the legislator as the main
body that deals with ethical conflicts with regard to journalism. 8 The Council covers the
complete journalistic spectrum, the different phases of the journalistic process, and all
categories of media, i.e., print, audiovisual, electronic and other media; general as well
specialized media.
The Press Council performs four tasks. In addition to fine-tuning journalistic deontology,
the Council is involved in mediation, treatment and assessment of complaints, and the
supply of information and guidelines. The Ombudsman within the Press Council mediates
in cases of conflicts and acts as an advisor. If case mediation does not succeed, the Press
Council deals with the complaint. The Press Council addresses all complaints, also
complaints against bloggers/weblogs. 9 In addition to the treatment of complaints, the
Press Council also issues guidelines (for instance, with respect to undercover journalism
or dealing with user-generated content). 10
On 20 September 2010, the Press Council issued its consolidated code of conduct on
ethical aspects of professional journalism. After some incidents, the Press Council on 24
April 2012 issued additional guidelines on the use of information and images from
personal websites and social media 11.
The establishment of a counterpart to the Flemish Press Council in the French Community
has been the subject of a lengthy debate, which resulted in the adoption of the Act of the
French Community of 30 April 2009 on the establishment of the conditions for the
recognition and subsidization of a body for the self-regulation of journalistic deontology.
The Act contains detailed provisions regarding the establishment and functioning of the
self-regulatory body, which encompasses a ‘Council for journalistic deontology’ (‘Conseil
de Déontologie journalistique’). The financing of the body is organized similarly to that of
the Flemish Press Council. The French Community Government attributes a subsidy of
EUR 80,000 to the journalists’ association. The Act also imposes the membership of the
self-regulatory body on certain actors, e.g., the RTBF, or press organizations who want to
benefit from press subsidies.
8
9
10
11
Before 2006, the (old) Flemish media regulator could also judge on conflicts in the area of journalists’
ethics; this duplication of competences was the reason why the public broadcaster for a long time did not
join the Press Council; however, to avoid confusion, the legislator decided to delete these powers when
establishing the new media regulator in 2005/2006, thereby acknowledging that deontology is the sole
competence of the Press Council.
With regard to one such decision, in 2009, a peculiar judgment was pronounced in summary proceedings
(Pres. Court of First Instance Brussels (in summary proceedings) 24 Jun. 2009). The publication of a
decision of the Press Council was prohibited by the President of the Brussels Court because of the nonopposability of the statutes of the Council to a journalist/blogger who is not a member of the journalists’
association. This decision has been sharply criticized. For more information: cf. Dirk Voorhoof, Rechter legt
bom(metje) onder de Raad voor de Journalistiek,
www.psw.ugent.be/Cms_global/uploads/publicaties/dv/05recente_publicaties/KG%20RvdJ%20VOORHOOF
2009%20kort29%206.pdf.
Available from: http://www.rvdj.be/node/61.
http://www.rvdj.be/sites/default/files/pdf/richtlijn201208.pdf.
45
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The Council for journalistic deontology was officially installed on 7 December 2009. The
Council deals with the French and German Community media, and counts 40 members.
The tasks of the Council are the same as the tasks of its Flemish counterpart
(deontology, mediation, treatment of complaints, and provision of information and
guidelines).
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The role of regulatory authorities is very limited. The organisation and monitoring of
journalists is mainly left to the self-regulatory instruments described above. As indicated,
the recognition as professional journalist is even not necessary in order to exercise the
profession, but only brings the journalist some practical advantages.
 Distribution Aspects
As the Belgian Constitutional Court interprets the powers of the cultural communities to
regulate radio and television as encompassing transmission of broadcasting signals, the
three community legislators have – each for their respective territories – implemented
the market analysis procedure in the European directives on electronic communications
networks and services. Given the fact that the regulatory authorities of the different
communities in principle are also competent to regulate the transmission aspects of
broadcasting, they are also empowered to allocate the necessary frequencies.
- Access to frequencies
As stipulated in the Flemish Community Media act, the content providers, depending on
whether they use scarce resources (in casu frequencies) or not, will have to apply for a
license or submit a notification. At the same time operators of terrestrial networks have
to apply for an individual authorization linked to a specific frequency.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
Apart from general market entry, market behaviour and competition law rules, there are
no specific or cross-sectoral media provisions on access to distribution networks.
For audiovisual media services, the monitoring of access to distribution networks and the
control of the actual conditions that apply are assigned to the respective regulatory
authorities, VRM and CSA (cf. art. 218 Flemish Media Act and art. 136 French community
Media Act). Distributors, i.e., those who aggregate or package channels and services
(either their own productions or acquired from third parties) into various bundles and
offer these to end-users, are subject to a notification regime.
In Flanders, this notification should be sent to the VRM, at least fourteen days before the
start of the service, in accordance with Article 219 Flemish Media act (Article 177 Flemish
Media act). The notification must contain the identification of the legal entity, the service
offer with the contractual terms for including the services and the electronic
communication network that will be used to transmit the services. Article 198 Flemish
Media act also obliges cable operators to keep separate accounts for their cable network
activities and for the provision of other networks and services established under special
or exclusive rights.
In the French Community, according to Article 77 French Community Media act,
distributors must submit a declaration to the Collège d’autorisation et de contrôle of the
CSA, containing the identification of the distributor as well as the composition of the offer
46
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
of the services and the commercial terms. It is prohibited for distributors to introduce
geographic price differentiation (‘for the same offer of audiovisual media services,
distributors are obliged to guarantee the same price for all subscribers’; Article 78 French
Community Media act) and they are obliged to keep separate accounts for their
distribution activities, on the one hand, and network operating activities, on the other
hand (Article 79 French Community Media act).
Partly because of the fragmented repartition of powers, there are no specific provisions
on the access to distribution networks which apply across the different media. The
normal (federal) competitions rules however remain applicable.
Further, it should be noted that in the federal parliament, there have been proposals to
regulate the issue of “net neutrality”, following the examples of the Netherlands and
France. The Parliament has organised hearings about the issue and agreed to first ask
further advice from the European Commission on the issue. Finally, some frictions have
in recent years also materialised between editors of traditional media providers and new
distribution formats, such as Google News (taking over news headlines), or between
newspapers editors and the public service broadcaster (launching free high-quality
internet news sites). Regarding the latter, the Commercial Court of Charleroi in a
judgement of 30 December 2011 stated that this could not be considered as an (illegal)
unfair business practice 12.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
In Flanders, must-carry rules for audiovisual media are laid down in the articles 185 –
188 of the Flemish Media Act. Since 2005, they were brought in line with article 31 of the
European directive on universal service in electronic communications, although in some
conditions, the Flemish government can decide that other linear channels also have to be
transmitted. In the French community, the articles 82, 83 and 87 of the French
Community Media act contain a similar additional possibility to obtain the must-carry
status. Article 48 of the French community Media Act states that the government can
allocate to one or more services of an editor the right of “obliged transmission”. The only
limitation that is imposed on the government is the fact that an agreement has been
concluded between the editor in question and the government. At first sight, and given
the unclarity about the content of those agreements, it can be questioned whether this
approach is in line with the current European provisions.
- Role of platform operators
‘Network operators’ (or ‘network providers’), who control the technical exploitation of
broadcasting networks and provide transmission capacity for the delivery of audiovisual
media services, are subject to prior notification (in the case of cable networks), or an
individual license linked to a specific frequency (in the case of terrestrial networks). This
is in line with Article 3 of the Authorisation Directive, which stipulates that the provision
of electronic communications networks may only be subject to a general authorization,
implying that the undertaking concerned may be required to submit a notification but
may not be required to obtain an explicit decision or any other administrative act by the
national regulatory authority. A system of individual licenses (‘individual rights of use’)
may only be maintained when the undertaking needs radio frequencies or numbers for its
operations.
12
http://www.psw.ugent.be/cms_global/uploads/publicaties/dv/
RTBFOnline.Jugement%20du%2030%20décembre%202011pdf.
47
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In the summer of 2009, Norkring (which had been the only applicant) has been allocated
a license to launch DTT services in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium by the Flemish
broadcast regulator, the VRM. The license is valid for fifteen years. Under its terms,
Norkring Belgium has to start broadcasting within the next two years, including the
launch of television and radio services via DVB-T, and/or services to mobile receivers via
DVB-H. The company also owns the license for digital radio in Flanders. While Norkring
will operate the digital terrestrial network (i.e. provide the technical services), one or
more service providers (distributors) will sell bundles of radio and television programmes
to the public (i.e. provide the content). This ‘wholesale’ model is inspired by the Finnish
model and implies that the network operator enters into agreements with service
providers, but is not active in the retail business itself (acting like a ‘common carrier’).
Spring 2010, Norkring selected Telenet as a first service provider on the basis of a
beauty contest, but the offer is not yet commercially available. One multiplex has been
reserved for the public service channels of VRT, which will be distributed for free.
In the French Community, RTBF operates its own multiplex for digital terrestrial
television. It thereon offers RTBF La Une and RTBF La Deux. RTBF also launched a new
channel exclusive to DTT called RTBF La Trois, and they added a fourth channel to the
multiplex, namely Euronews, a pan-European news channel.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
In July 2011, the regulators of the communities, together with the federal
telecommunications regulator (Belgisch Instituut voor Postdiensten en Telecommunicatie,
BIPT) decided to force their cable companies and Belgacom to open their networks in an
attempt to further stimulate competition. 13
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The French Community Media act imposes transparency obligations on radio and
television broadcasters. First, they have to ensure transparency towards the public: all
editors of broadcasting services have to make available ‘basic information’ to the public
in order to allow it to form its opinion about the value of information and ideas
distributed in the programmes of that editor (Article 6, §1 French Community Media act).
Second, in order to ensure transparency of ownership and control structures, as well as
their level of independence, editors, distributors and network operators are obliged to
send the regulator (the CSA) the following information: the identification of shareholders
(and percentage of shareholding), the interest of these shareholders in other
broadcasting or media companies, and the identification of natural or legal persons active
in programme supporting businesses, contributing to a substantial level to the production
of programmes.
There are no special obligations for newspapers to provide transparency with regard to
ownership capital structure.
13
For more info:
http://www.vlaamseregulatormedia.be/media/16511/20110718%20-%20televisieomroepmarkt%20%20non%20conf%20-%20ondertekende%20versie.pdf.
48
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Accountability of public service media
According to the Articles 136 of French Community Media act and Article 218 of the
Flemish Media Act, the respective regulators (i.e. the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media
and the Collège d’autorisation et de contrôle have the obligation to report and/or advise
on the realization of the obligations laid down in the management contracts and to
establish all violations of the management contracts. Both public service broadcasters are
also obliged to publish annual reports, while the financial aspects and their budget are
monitored by the Accounts Chamber (‘Rekenhof’). Further, a representative of the
government also takes part in the Management Board of VRT and RTBF.
- Freedom of information laws
The conditions and the necessary procedures for access to administrative information
have been laid out in legislation of the different entities of the federal state:
For the federal level: the act of 11 April 1994 on the public access to administration,
most recently amended by the act of 4 February 2010 (Belgisch Staatsblad 10 March
2010);
For Flanders: act of 26 March 2004 on the public access to administration, most recently
amended by the act of 27 March 2007 (Belgisch Staatsblad 5 November 2007);
For the French Community: act of 22 December 1994 on the public access to
administration, most recently amended by the act of 30 March 2007;
For the provinces and communes, in principle: act of 12 November 1997 on the public
access to administration for provinces and communes, most recently amended by the
Royal decree of 5 August 2006 (Belgisch Staatsblad 28 August 2006).
Most of these acts reflect a double approach to access to public sector information: an
active duty, on the one hand, to ensure that government information is disseminated
among the public, and a passive right, on the other hand, for individuals to request
information and access to government documents.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
Compared to the analogue offer, cable customers do not need to pay an extra
subscription for the basic package of about thirty-five digital channels, but they must
purchase a set-top box in order to view these digital channels and use the interactive
services. In the French Community, the cooperation between Brutélé and ALE-Télédis led
to the creation of VOO, which offers analogue as well as digital television in Wallonia and
Brussels (where also Numéricable is active). All of these offers include interactive
services, such as on-demand movies and catch-up TV.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
The Flemish Press Council is involved in mediation, treatment and assessment of
complaints, and the supply of information and guidelines. The Ombudsman within the
Press Council mediates in cases of conflicts and acts as an advisor. In case mediation
does not succeed, the Press Council deals with the complaint. The Press Council
49
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
addresses all complaints, also complaints against bloggers/weblogs. 14 In addition to the
treatment of complaints, the Press Council also issues guidelines (for instance, with
respect to undercover journalism or dealing with user-generated content).
Apart from the Ombudsman within the Flemish Press Council, there are no ombudsmen
or specific complaints procedures for the entire media sector. At the level of the
communities, the regulatory authorities have established complaints procedures for radio
and television. A specific complaints-handling procedure for example exists in the VRMprocedural decree. It states that complaints are examined by the staff of the VRM and
then forwarded to the relevant chamber (Article 12 government decree on VRMprocedure). The threshold for the complaints procedure is very low since it is accessible
through the public website of the VRM (including an identification through the electronic
id-card): http://www.vlaamseregulatormedia.be/nl/klachten.aspx. As with all other
regulatory decisions of the chambers of the VRM, also these ones have to be motivated
according to general administrative law. Moreover, they should also be made available
publicly (Article 219 Flemish Broadcasting Act, Article 11 VRM procedural decree of 30
June 2006, Articles 9-15 and 33 internal rules chambers 18 July 2009).
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
The management contracts concluded between the respective governments and their
public service broadcasters contain a number of general provisions and criteria related to
the orientation of their offer to all users. The respective media decrees however do not
contain further specific provisions on the involvement of citizens or other co- or selfregulatory bodies in the development of their offer. In the German speaking community,
the Offener Kanal is a channel specifically aiming at contributions for the public.
4.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
First, it is important to take into account the fact that there is no such thing as a
homogenous Belgian media landscape. Different media markets can be distinguished
which run parallel to the country’s communities, i.e., the Flemish Community, the French
Community and the – much smaller – German-speaking Community. Being a small
country with three official languages, Belgium has always turned to its neighbours. This
is especially the case for the small German-speaking Community looking towards
Germany, but also for the French Community, which is strongly oriented towards France
and French television channels. In Flanders, before the introduction of commercial
television, the channels from the Netherlands were very popular. But the Flemish public
massively turned to its own commercial channels as soon as these were introduced in the
late eighties.
4.2.1.
Radio
In Flanders, there are four communitywide (‘landelijke’) and five regional public radio
stations and one public world service, operated by the public broadcasting organization
VRT. In the French Community, the public service broadcaster, RTBF offers five FM radio
14
With regard to one such decision, in 2009, a peculiar judgment was pronounced in summary proceedings
(Pres. Court of First Instance Brussels (in summary proceedings) 24 Jun. 2009). The publication of a
decision of the Press Council was prohibited by the President of the Brussels Court because of the nonopposability of the statutes of the Council to a journalist/blogger who is not a member of the journalists’
association. This decision has been sharply criticized. For more information: cf. Dirk Voorhoof, Rechter legt
bom(metje) onder de Raad voor de Journalistiek,
www.psw.ugent.be/Cms_global/uploads/publicaties/dv/05recente_publicaties/
KG%20RvdJ%20VOORHOOF2009%20kort29%206.pdf .
50
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
channels and eleven ‘hors FM’ radio channels (such as web radios, or its international
radio channel ‘RTBFi’ via AM, internet and satellite).
As more spectrum has been freed up for private initiatives, new types of radio stations
have emerged during the last ten years. In Flanders, local radio stations have existed
since the sixties, but only in 2001 did the legislator introduce the regulatory framework
for commercial communitywide radio. Two commercial radio stations obtained such a
license: Q-music (owned by VMMa) and 4FM (renamed ‘Joe FM’ in 2009; formerly owned
by Talpa Radio International, currently owned by VMMa). In 2002, the city radios,
covering the Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp conglomerate, have been replaced by the
category of ‘regional radio stations’, covering more or less the area of one province.
Besides these terrestrial radios, ‘other radio stations’ (transmitting via cable networks)
and ‘radio services’ (‘Internet radios’) are also a part of the radio scene.
In the French community, there are also 96 private radio broadcasters, broadcasting on
335 frequencies, as well as 21 school radios. The major private channels are the BelRTL
channel, operated by RTL group, Contact, Nostalgie and NRJ, which cover the whole
territory of the French Community (‘réseaux communautaires’). In addition, there are a
number of local radios (‘réseaux urbains’ and ‘réseaux provinciaux’), community radios
(‘radios associatives et d’expression à vocation culturelle ou d’éducation permanente’),
web radios (sometimes broadcasting only temporarily, e.g., a Christmas web radio), and
radio services on demand.
4.2.2.
Television
The three public broadcasting organizations in Belgium also offer television, i.e., VRT in
Flanders (Vlaamse Radio en Televisieomroep; <www.vrt.be>); RTBF in the French
Community (Radio-Télévision belge de la Communauté française, <www.rtbf.be>) and
BRF in the German-speaking Community (Belgisches Rundfunk- und Fernsehzentrum;
<www.brf.be>). VRT has three TV channels: één (general interest, focuses on a large
audience), Canvas (in-depth, focus on news and culture) and Ketnet (aimed at children
and young people); RTBF also has three TV channels: La Une, La Deux and La Trois.
Twenty years ago, commercial television was introduced in both the Dutch and Frenchspeaking regions and since then, the number of broadcasters has continuously grown. In
Flanders, those ‘private’ broadcasters offer channels which target the whole of the
Flemish Community, thematic channels, pay TV channels and regional channels. 15 The
major players in the Flemish private broadcasting market are VMMa (jointly owned by de
Persgroep and Roularta), with its channels VTM, 2be and JimTV, and De Vijver, which
recently took over the channels VT4 and VijfTV (soon to be rebranded as “vier” (four)
and “vijf” (five) from SBS Belgium. Besides these major broadcasting networks (which
attract more than 75% of the viewers together with the public broadcaster VRT), various
smaller television channels offer thematic or niche programming (for instance, Kanaal Z
for financial and business news, TMF for music and Actua TV for political news). Recently,
Alfacam, a Belgian-based company providing TV facilities and services to broadcasters
and production houses throughout the world, entered the Flemish television market (via
its subsidiary EURO1080) with its high-definition digital channels EXQI Sport and EXQI
Culture, as well as the wide-interest analogue channel EXQI. These new offers however
did not succeed in reaching their targets. In July 2009 Belgacom launched the music
channel “Anne”, specializing in music of Flemish soil. On 1 October 2009 VMMa launched
a new children’s channel VTMKzoom. On 2 June 2010, the culinary channel Delicious! was
15
A full list can be seen at:
www.vlaamseregulatormedia.be/nl/omroepen/overzicht-private-televisieomroeporganisaties.aspx.
51
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
announced. On 5 November 2011 it was announced that VMMa would take over Media ad
Infinitum. The television landscape in Flanders has recently evolved significantly after the
take-over of the SBS/ProSiebenSat 1 channels, VT4 and VijfTV by “ De Vijver” a holding
company owned by Corelio (publisher of popular newspapers like Het Nieuwsblad and De
Standaard, and also active in regional TV), Sanoma (publishers of popular magazines like
Story and Humo) and Wouter Vandenhaute/Erik Watte (of the successful production
house Woestijnvis).
The first commercial television broadcaster in the French Community of Belgium was
Radio Télévision Luxembourg – Télévision Indépendante (RTL-TVI, operating since 1987).
RTL-TVI is part of the Luxembourg RTL Group which is controlled by Bertelsmann. In
2006, RTL-TVI abandoned the ‘double licensing regime’ it had voluntarily committed to in
the past (implying that it had ‘two nationalities’ and thus respected broadcasting
legislations of both Luxembourg, and the French Community of Belgium) and is now
exclusively established in Luxembourg. The RTL Group currently offers two other TV
channels in the French Community, Club RTL and Plug RTL. In October 2001, a Belgian
branch of the French AB Groupe launched a new commercial channel AB3 (focusing on a
young public, 15–44 years) and two years later AB4. Some additional private
broadcasters are operating niche programs (such as Liberty TV for tourism, MCM
Belgique for music, and Canal Z for business TV).
As noted above, the German-speaking Community in Belgium has its own public
broadcasting service (BRF) with one television channel, but its citizens predominantly
turn to German channels or the channels of the French Community for television
information and entertainment.
Over the past decade broadcasters started to branch out into other fields of media,
making use of the opportunities provided by the rise of new technologies. In April 2003,
for instance, the Flemish public broadcaster VRT launched its multimedia news channel,
combining text messages, pictures, sound, moving images of the items presented, on the
Internet, www.deredactie.be. Around the same period, the Flemish commercial
broadcasting channel, VTM, started to offer its ‘breaking news’ service via SMS.
4.2.3.
Press and Publishing
Also the Belgian print media landscape is divided in a Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and
Walloon (French-speaking) market. Print companies active in the north of the country are
not necessarily active on the Walloon market, and vice versa, although most
communitywide and some regional newspapers are available throughout the country.
When looking at the paid daily newspapers, both the Flemish and Walloon newspaper
market are controlled (each) by three publishers: in Flanders De Persgroep publishes the
most popular newspaper (31% in 2010) Het Laatste Nieuws, as well as the quality
newspaper De Morgen, and De Nieuwe Gazet (regional version of Het Laatste Nieuws for
the region of Antwerp); Corelio publishes the second most popular newspaper Het
Nieuwsblad (28%), the most popular quality newspaper De Standaard (10%), as well as
De Gentenaar (regional version of Het Nieuwsblad for the region of Ghent), and finally
Concentra publishes the regional newspaper Het Belang van Limburg, as well as (via its
subsidiary De Vlijt) the largest regional newspaper for Antwerp, Gazet van Antwerpen
(11%):
52
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Figure 1 BE: Print newspaper market shares in Flanders
(Source: VRM media concentration report 2011, p. 169)
In Wallonia, La Dernière Heure/Les Sports (14,3% in 2008) and Le Soir (15,1%) are the
most popular communitywide newspapers, published by respectively IPM (which belongs
to Groupe IPM) and Rossel (which belongs to Groupe Rossel). IPM also publishes La Libre
Belgique (8,5%), while Rossel is also responsible – via Sud Presse – for a number of
regional newspapers (La Meuse, La Capitale …). The various regional titles of the third
publisher, Editions de L’Avenir (including L’Avenir du Luxembourg, Le Courrier, Le
Courrier de l’Escaut, Le Jour Huy-Waremme, Le Jour Verviers, Vers l’Avenir BasseSambre, Vers l’Avenir Brabant Wallon, Vers l’Avenir Entre Sambre-et-Meuse, Vers
l’Avenir Namur/Dinant) represent 16,6% of the daily newspaper market. Editions de
l’Avenir belongs to the Corelio group, which is also active in Flanders. All three groups,
IPM, Corelio and Rossel, have – via Audiopresse – a minority share in RTL Belgium, which
edits three television broadcasting channels (RTL-TVi, Club RTL and Plug RTL), and which
is co-owned by the Luxembourg based CLT-UFA.
Finally, it should be noted that since 2005, the Flemish and Walloon economic-financial
newspapers, De Tijd respectively L’Echo, belong to one company Mediafin (50% owned
by Rossel and 50% by De Persgroep):
53
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Figure 2 BE: Print newspaper market shares per title in Wallonia
(Source: www.csa.be/pluralisme/audience/secteur/3)
Figure 3 BE: Print newspaper market shares per title in Wallonia
(Source: www.csa.be/pluralisme/audience/secteur/3)
There is also a wide variety of periodic magazines (both general interest magazines and
specialized, thematic publications). In the Flemish market the three main actors are
Roularta (Trends, Knack), Sanoma (Flair, Humo, Libelle, Story, TeveBlad) and De
Persgroep (Dag Allemaal, TV Familie, Joepie, Blik, etc.). Roularta is also active in
Wallonia with Tendance, the French-language version of the business magazine Trends
and – via Le Vif Magazine – with the popular Le Vif/ L’Express. Sanoma Belgium belongs
54
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
to the Finish media group Sanoma WSOY that is active in print, radio and television in
various European countries.
A final category contains free newspapers and magazines (which cover their costs only by
means of advertising revenues). In Flanders, these free print media have gained a
significant share in the market in recent years. In addition to the very popular newspaper
Metro (available at train stations and bus stops, and owned – via Mass Transit Media – by
Concentra), Roularta (De Zondag and De Streekkrant), de Persgroep (Immozone and
Vacature), and Corelio (Jobspotter) are the major players in this segment. Concentra also
participates in the free weekly newspapers De Streekkrant (20%) and Vacature (33%).
Mass Transit Media (which is 51% owned by Concentra and 49% by Rossel) also
publishes Metro in Wallonia.
4.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Specifically for Flanders, the Annual Report of the VRT and the media concentration
reports of the VRM also contain a number of figures on the consumption of video over
Internet. In its media concentration report, the VRM notes big differences in the visiting
of websites of radio and television broadcasters. Very strong brands or television channels
such as deredactie.be (news) and sporza.be (sports) also attract huge amounts of website
visitors. One of the reasons for this is the fact that these sites offer specific content,
while most other sites of the public broadcasters are only a representation of the
corporate brand on the Internet. In this category, the website of the main public general
channel (“Eén”) also scores quite well. The VRM however draws the attention to the fact
that these different types of websites can hardly be compared.
Figure 4 BE: Unique visitors based on week averages of 15 July 2009, 2 August
2010 and September 2011
(Source: VRM media concentration report2011, p. 178)
55
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Specifically for the public broadcaster’s websites, more than 10 million video download
sessions are launched every month. Towards the end of 2010, the number of video clips
launched even reached 16 million. Apparently, especially the video zones of
“deredactie.be” (news) and “sporza.be” (sports) seem to attract the internet media user.
Overall, in 2010 around 150 million video downloads were initiated, an increase of 75%
compared to the year before.
Table 7 BE: Video consumption on VRT-websites
(Source: VRT Annual Report 2010, p. 37, note that Ketnet on 11 June 2010 started a
separate Ketnet Internet zone)
The Research Department of the Flemish Government also providers figures of the
numbers of unique visitors of the other websites of the public broadcaster over a longer
period of time:
Table 8 BE: Unique visitors per day of VRT websites
VRT website
VRT
Eén
Canvas
Ketnet
Vrtnieuws
Deredactie.be
Sporza.be
Cobra.be
Radio1
Radio2
Klara
StuBru
MNM
(voorheen
Donna)
Rvi
Internet radio
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
8.784
56.013
9.768
14.620
NB
145.250
144.192
4.174
9.327
11.683
3.628
25.896
10.463
51.088
8.146
11.347
NB
110.158
111.290
NB
8.111
11.679
6.920
22.999
11.999
51.540
7.766
10.947
NB
84.696
89.194
NB
8.356
13.453
5.093
24.214
14.157
50.996
7.856
9.260
130.445
NB
NB
NB
8.893
10.034
3.375
23.573
13.491
47.791
7.772
8.180
100.525
NB
NB
NB
8.096
7.929
3.047
18.837
10.992
38.160
6.418
6.509
57.646
NB
NB
NB
7.411
5.212
2.580
15.630
10.313
161
22.960
12.082
387
24.600
10.915
1.379
27.484
13.457
1.086
28.059
11.338
1.066
31.797
12.446
670
23.693
(Source: Studiedienst Vlaamse Regering, http://aps.vlaanderen.be/)
56
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
4.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
Currently, broadcasting content is transmitted via a range of distribution means, such as
cable, but also via satellite and terrestrial networks, both in an analogue and digital
manner.
Cable, however, remains the predominant means to convey broadcasting signals.
Traditionally Belgium has been characterized by its high cable penetration rate of around
95%. Only a small amount of viewers receive television programmes via antenna.
Satellite mainly attracts subscribers in city areas (or since the launch of TV Vlaanderen
so-called ‘secondary’ subscribers using satellite as their second means of television
reception, e.g., in their holiday resort).
While the cable networks were traditionally operated by small – public or private/public –
undertakings, called ‘intercommunales’, covering the territory of one or a few
municipalities, the cable industry has witnessed considerable consolidation over the last
fifteen years. In Flanders, Telenet has invested considerably in the modernization and
interconnection of the existing cable networks. It started to offer Internet access via
cable in 1997 and added voice telephony to its product range as soon as the
telecommunications market was fully liberalized on 1 January 1998. Initially, Telenet was
granted an ‘exclusive right of use’ on the cable networks, while the property rights
remained in the hands of the ‘intercommunales’. In 2001, the mixed intercommunales
decided to sell their cable networks (representing two thirds of all cable networks in
Flanders) and their television distribution activities to Telenet (who is since then a ‘triple
play’ provider), while the pure intercommunales, united in ‘Interkabel’, decided to launch
a separate offer of digital television under the brand ‘INDI’. Mid 2008, after difficult
negotiations and protest by Belgacom, Telenet also took over the television distribution
activities of Interkabel. In the meantime, Telenet also acquired – in 2007 – the private
cable distribution company, UPC (active in Leuven and Brussels). In 2003, Telenet had
also already acquired the only pay TV channel active in Flanders, Canal+ (currently
Prime).
Eight of the cable companies in the Walloon region have merged into Tecteo, which
cooperates with the Brussels cable company Brutélé under the common brand ‘VOO’. Like
Telenet in Flanders, Tecteo also acquired the pay TV operator active in the south of
Belgium, BeTV (the former Canal+ Belgique), in October 2008. In Brussels, besides
Tecteo and Telenet, the British-American-Luxemburgian-owned cable television operator,
Numéricable (operating in France, Belgium and Luxemburg), is also active, currently
offering standard quadruple-play services at very competitive prices.
Digital television in Belgium is currently offered via cable distribution networks (DVB-C),
DSL, terrestrial network (DVB-T) and satellite. There is a fierce competition between the
historical CATV network operators (Telenet, Tecteo, Numéricable, Newico) and the
incumbent telecommunications operator, Belgacom. The latter introduced digital
television via xDSL in Belgium in June 2005 with national football as its trump card
(Belgacom acquired the broadcasting rights for the national Jupiler league for the years
2005 to 2008). The launch of Belgacom TV made the Belgacom Group a quadruple-play
actor, active in the field of fixed as well as mobile telephony, Internet access and
television services. In Flanders, Telenet disposes of a very strong position on the
audiovisual market. In 1997 it started as challenger of Belgacom with Internet access
and value-added services (infra), joined the fixed telephony market on 1 January 1998,
stepped into the analogue cable TV distribution business when it acquired two thirds of
the Flemish cable networks in 2001 and launched Telenet Digital TV in September 2005.
It currently offers twenty-five analogue TV channels which are also available digitally
57
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
(MHP over DVB-C). In total about eighty TV channels are available digitally. This includes
some TV channels that were already available in analogue and digital form: Prime (in
Dutch) or BeTV (in French) are pay-TV operators broadcasting several SDTV channels
over one DVB-C multiplex.
Digital terrestrial networks are also taking up, although, for the time being, only the
channels of the two Belgian public TV networks, the VRT on the Flemish side and the
RTBF on the French-speaking side, are available via DVB-T. The VRT channels can be
received all over Flanders and Brussels. Analogue terrestrial TV transmission of VRT één
and VRT Ketnet/Canvas ended on 3 November 2008 (‘analogue switch-off’). In December
2008, the VRT sold a 49% stake in its broadcast transmission network to Norkring, a
subsidiary of Telenor. The VRT holds the remaining 51% stake in the network, but the
plan is to increase Norkring’s stake to 75% during the next couple of years.
The RTBF launched its DTT platform on 30 November 2007, which is now available to
most of French-speaking Belgium and Brussels. The RTBF shut down the analogue
transmitters within the timespan put forward by the EU, in November 2011. In the
summer of 2009, the CSA published the results of the consultation on its DTT strategy. It
should however be noted that the development of a strategy regarding the digital
dividend is extremely complicated in Belgium as a result of the division of powers
between the federal and community authorities.
TV Vlaanderen supplies DVB-S satellite television aimed at the Flemish, Dutch speaking
market, broadcasting (encrypted, Seca 2/Irdeto 2) via the Astra 1G satellite at 19.2°E. It
has more than 60,000 subscribers. In December 2008, a French language satellite
platform called TeleSat was launched via the Eutelsat Hot Bird satellite position at 13°E.
It broadcasts in MPEG4/DVB-S2 in SD and consists of RTBF La Une, RTBF La Deux, RTLTVi, Plug TV and Club RTL as well as a number of French language Belgian radio stations.
Both TV Vlaanderen and TeleSat are Belgian subsidiaries of the Airfield Holding, who also
owns the Dutch DTH platform, CanalDigitaal. VRT and RTBF both have international
channels on digital satellite (DVB-S) called BVN (as a cooperation between the Flemish
VRT and the Dutch NOS) and RTBF Sat.
4.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
For figures on audience shares, readership, usage of Internet offers, see 2.2.2.2.1 to
2.2.2.2.4 above.
The Research Department of the Flemish Government publishes figures about the overall
advertising revenues in Flanders:
58
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 9 BE: Turnover of advertising market in Flanders (gross, in million euro)
Media
(in millon euros)
Affichage
Bioscoop
Written press (excl.
free regional press)
Radio
Television
(incl.
sponsoring)
Internet
Free regional press
Total
2010
131.6
14.2
2009
129,2
13,5
2008
129,1
14,8
2007
124,7
14,7
2006
115,8
16,3
2005
109,8
15,3
669.1
640,0
641,3
666,2
624,2
541,4
202.7
182,5
193,1
192,6
169,0
151,3
941.2
820,1
787,1
744,1
689,8
615,6
107.8
75.7
2,142.2
83,7
63,7
1.932,7
75,2
54,1
1.894,7
51,6
55,9
1.842,17
27,9
73,3
1.716,4
1.433,4
Source: Studiedienst Vlaamse Regering, http://aps.vlaanderen.be/
Graphically, these figures can be summarised as follows:
Figure 5 BE: Turnover of advertising market in Flanders
(Source: Studiedienst Vlaamse Regering, http://aps.vlaanderen.be/)
59
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
4.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Main changes in comparison to the 2004 Report:
 establishing of audiovisual media services regulatory authority in Flanders
(“Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media”, 2005);
 start of competition between digital television platforms, mainly cable and twisted
pair (2005);
 Act on the confidentiality of journalistic sources of 7 April 2005; Constitutional
Court in 2006 expanding the protection even to non-professional journalists;
 2005 – 2012: Implementation of th EU electronic communications directives and
AVMS directive by the different communities and federal authority;
 2009 – 2010: establishing of self –regulatory press councils and codes of conduct in
Flanders and French community;
 2011: European Court finds existing safeguards of freedom of expression violating
ECHR in case RTBF v. Belgium;
 2012: Highest Court extends the constitutional protection of ‘printed press crimes’
to the internet, potentially leading to de facto impunity;
 markets: shift from analogue to digital audiovisual media, including analogue
switch off and launching of DTT; convergence between traditional and new media.
Overall, we consider the obligations for the media and the institutions concerning the
citizens’ right to be fully and objectively informed are sufficiently implemented into the
Belgian constitutional, legal and regulatory frameworks. Generally speaking, the
provisions on the freedom of expression and freedom of the media guarantee an effective
and efficient protection. The main concern relates to the unclarity about the precise
scope or delimitation of the existing constitutional safeguards regarding freedom of
expression, which are still essentially different for printed and other media, and to the
fact that powers regarding different media are divided between different authorities (e.g.
federal for competition issues, communities for audiovisual media), thereby creating
barriers for a truly cross media regulatory approach. Some additional concerns can be
expressed about the application of these rights by the Courts when dealing with new
trends, such as user-generated content or other new technologies. In this respect, it
remains to be seen what the actual impact will be of extending the protection of
journalistic sources to non-professional journalists, or even to individual bloggers. The
question has not yet been answered to what extent this protection could make more
difficult the defence of a citizen against the allegations of another citizen. Moreover,
some concerns could also be raised about the recent judgement of the Supreme Court (6
March 2012), in which it confirms that ‘printed press crimes’ could also be committed
over the Internet. Specifically in this case, it remains to be seen to what extent this could
lead to a de facto impunity, given the fact that the procedure before the Hof van Assisen
is such a high threshold.
This possible “overprotection” of the freedom and rights of individual citizens by courts
contrasts quite significantly with the actual position of journalists and the organisation of
their profession. Associations of journalists since a number of years are stressing the fact
60
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
that technological and economic trends are creating an enormous pressure on their work.
The distribution of news through the Internet has obliged redactions to truly work across
different media (quite often leading to internal reorganisations, or reductions in FTE), and
always against the clock. Precisely because of the pressure they perceive, associations of
journalists are pleading for an increased protection of their role through the formalization
of safeguards for editorial independence by introducing editorial statutes in all news
media.
Pluralism and diversity of the media are pro-actively monitored by the respective
regulatory authorities. These monitorings are however limited to creating awareness
through transparency, and to the broadcasting sectors (television and radio). The VRM
for example publishes a yearly report on media concentration, but does not dispose of
regulatory powers in order to remedy any possible shortcoming or market failure. In
broadcasting, the markets are characterised by quite strong public service broadcasters,
challenged by quite vibrant and successful commercial broadcasters. Recently, the
activities of SBS Belgium in Flanders were taken over by a Flemish production company
(‘De Vijver’), thereby offering additional guarantees in the local “anchoring” of content
production. Since the beginning of the financial and economic crisis, different market
players have criticised the increasing role of the distributors in the audiovisual media
sector. The regulatory authorities have performed an analysis of the market and came in
July 2011 to the conclusion that besides obligations on the main telecommunications
operator (Belgacom), obligations to open their networks should also be imposed on the
operators of cable networks. These decisions are now being implemented.
It is clear that during the last decade, mainly the role of the regulatory authorities in the
audiovisual broadcasting sector has significantly increased. In Flanders, the previously
existing regulatory authorities have in 2005 been replaced by the new “Vlaamse
Regulator voor de Media” (VRM), which supervises the application and compliance of the
media act. As the CSA for the French community, the VRM does not only do so for the
commercial broadcasting sector, but also monitors the behaviour and legal compliance of
the public service broadcaster. Moreover, the VRM also reports about the implementation
of the management contract of the public service broadcaster. Additional powers were
assigned to the different media regulatory authorities through the implementation of the
(revised) EU eCommunications framework, as well as the implementation of the AVMS
Directive. This has enabled the media regulatory authorities to gather a sufficient level of
critical mass relating to the audiovisual media sectors. A true cross-media policy remains
however extremely difficult to realise, given the complex and fragmented nature of the
repartition of power in the Belgian federal state.
Recommendations
 the constitutional safeguards regarding freedom of expression should be revised
and harmonised in the light of the judgement of the ECHR in RTBF v. Belgium, as
they should not essentially vary depending on whether print media or audiovisual
media are concerned;
 the expansion of the protection of journalistic sources (including citizens
journalists) and the potential de facto impunity for ‘printed press crimes’ on the
Internet should be thouroughly and critically evaluated in the light of the freedom
of expression;
61
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 the current legal frameworks in the Flemish and French community are unstable
and unclear about the possibility to offer political commercial communication in
audiovisual media and should therefore be reconsidered;
 editorial independence of journalists has to remain an important point of attention
of the government; offering more guarantees through the establishment of editorial
statutes for all news media should be considered;
 the involvement of many different authorities creates a barrier for a truly crossmedia policy or approach; against the background of growing convergence between
all different kinds of media, the governments in Belgium should consider a more
consistent and future-proof approach (e.g. acknowledging the role of user-driven
journalistic initiatives); more pro-active powers for the existing audiovisual media
regulatory authorities should in this respect also be considered.
62
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
5.
BULGARIA
5.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
5.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
The Bulgarian constitution 1 provides for the three fundamental freedoms: freedom of
expression, freedom of press and other mass information media and freedom of seeking,
obtaining and disseminating information (art. 39, 40 and 41).
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
According to the official translation 2 of Art. 39 the freedom of expression is described as
follows:
Art. 39. (1) Everyone shall be entitled to express an opinion or to publicize it through
words, written or oral, sound or image, or in any other way.
(2) This right shall not be used to the detriment of the rights and reputation of others, or
for the incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the
perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of enmity or violence against anyone.
Art. 40 specifies the freedom of expression with regard to the press and other mass
information media:
Art. 40. (1) The press and the other mass information media shall be free and shall not
be subjected to censorship.
(2) An injunction on or a confiscation of printed matter or another information medium
shall be allowed only through an act of the judicial authorities in the case of an
encroachment on public decency or incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally
established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of violence against
anyone. An injunction suspension shall lose force if not followed by a confiscation within
24 hours.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The freedom to receive information is enshrined in Art. 41:
Art. 41. (1) Everyone shall be entitled to seek, obtain and disseminate information. This
right shall not be exercised to the detriment of the rights and reputation of others, or to
the detriment of national security, public order, public health and morality.
(2) Everyone shall be entitled to obtain information from state bodies and agencies on
any matter of legitimate interest to them which is not a state or official secret and does
not affect the rights of others.
According to the interpretative decision of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court the freedom
of expression is the basic of the other two freedoms and it incorporates them. 3 The
reason for mentioning the freedom of the mass information media is to underline their
important public function but not to give them a “special privilege” with regard to the
1
2
3
State Gazette No. 56 from 13 July 1991, last amendments state Gazette No. 12 from 6 February 2007.
http://www.parliament.bg/en/const.
Decision No. 7 from 1996 of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, available at
http://www.constcourt.bg/Pages/Document/default.aspx?ID=323.
63
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
other citizens’. 4 Furthermore, the Constitutional Court pointed out that restrictions of the
three fundamental rights can only be based on reservation by the Constitution itself. The
right to seek and obtain information under Art. 41 (1) encompasses the government
institutions' obligation to guarantee access to information of public significance. The
content of that obligation is subject to further definitions like in Art. 82 of the
Constitution, where is foreseen that the sessions of the National Assembly shall be open.
The Rules of organisation and procedure of the National Assembly 5 regulate the
modalities of the access and special provisions with regard to the public radio, television
and journalists. According to Art. 41 of the Rules the open assemblies of the National
Assembly can be broadcast live, but only by the public broadcaster (the Bulgarian
National Radio and the Bulgarian National Television) or through the web-site of the
Assembly. This can be seen as an unjustified discrimination of private broadcasters.
Further, according to Art. 121 (3) of the Constitution, all courts shall conduct their
hearings in public, unless provided otherwise by law.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Bulgarian Constitution does not hold specific provisions on the statute, remit and/or
powers of the regulatory authorities in the media and electronic communications sectors.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
No stipulations are contained in the Bulgarian Constitution that would hold specific
guarantees for the citizens in respect of universal service of the (electronic) media.
5.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
Bulgaria has a dual broadcasting system consisting of two public television and radio
broadcasters, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) and Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on
the one hand and private broadcasters on the other.
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The main law regulating broadcasting in Bulgaria is the Law on Radio and Television
(LRT). 6 The adopted approach in connection with the broadcasting-market entry
regulates different procedures, in accordance with the way of programme broadcasting.
Two licensing regimes exist, depending on whether the broadcaster will broadcast its
programmes through a terrestrial analogue network or a digital one. In the first case, the
CEM issues a programme license, and the telecommunications regulator – the CRC –
issues a communication permit to the broadcaster. The number of licenses is limited to
the number of potentially available frequencies. Till the present day, this licensing
procedure has been used de facto only in the radio sector. In the second case, the
licensing is not related to a specific frequency, the number of licenses is not limited, and
the choice of programmes is given to the multiplex operator, while abiding by the legal
requirements and the must-carry rules. The CEM issues only a programme license to the
broadcaster. This procedure is being applied today only for television broadcasters.
4
5
6
Ibid.
State Gazette No. 58 from 27 July 2009, last amendments State Gazette No. 80 from 14 October 2011,
available at http://www.parliament.bg/en/rulesoftheorganisations.
State Gazette No. 138 from 24 November 1998, last amendments State Gazette No. 38 from 18 May
2012.
64
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Broadcasters using exclusively cable and/or satellite networks are subject of mere
registration. With amendments in the Law on Electronic Communication (LEC) 7, a fourth
alternative was provided, according to which the CRC temporarily provides already
registered broadcasters with usage rights for analogue frequencies, without having to
follow the complex procedure of analogue terrestrial licensing under the LRT.
101 permissions have been issued in June 2009 to five applicants (TV 7, TV 2 (after that
Pro.BG and now bTV action), Television Evropa, MSat, Evrocom International Cable TV)
based solely on two criteria - advertising revenues and technical equipment.
These legal provisions were one of the reasons why the European Commission has
launched an infringement procedure against Bulgaria in May 2011. Other irregularities
mentioned by the Commission were: the reservation of the terrestrial frequencies over
the territory of Sofia only for the Bulgarian National Television since the latter had no
regional programming license for this territory at that time; the requirement that bidders
for the digital multiplexes shall not perform television activities, and the Bulgarian model
of must-carry rules as far as the digital distribution of television programmes is
concerned.
On 22 March 2012 the Commission considered that Bulgaria did not comply with the
requirements of the Competition Directive when it assigned in 2009 the five spectrum
lots available for digital terrestrial broadcasting via two contest procedures, limiting
without justification the number of undertakings that could enter the market concerned.
Moreover, the selection criteria of the contest procedures were disproportionate and
therefore not in line with the requirements of the Competition, Authorisation and
Framework Directives. Applicants were not allowed to have links with content providers
(TV channels operators), including operators active only outside Bulgaria, or with
broadcasting network operators. 8
The decision takes the form of a reasoned opinion. Bulgaria now has two months to
inform the Commission of the measures taken to address the breach of EU Law. The
official Bulgarian position on these issues was previously that Bulgaria did not breach the
EU rules. 9
Furthermore, Bulgaria has not yet implemented the new EU telecoms rules (the deadline
to do so was 25 May 2011). Because of that a second infringement procedure has been
launched by the European Commission. The Commissions’ request from 24 November
2011 took the form of “reasoned opinions”.
The non-linear services (video on-demand) are subject of a notification to be sent to the
CEM.
The press market entry has not been regulated by special legislative provisions.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
There are no rules which regulate specifically the control over media concentrations.
They are controlled only from an economic perspective, following the rules of the general
7
8
9
State Gazette No. 41 from 22 May 2007, last amendments State Gazette No. 44 from 12 June 2012.
See:
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/298&format=
HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en.
http://www.capital.bg/biznes/media_i_reklama/2011/07/22/1127707_ek_zabavia_
no_ne_zabravia/.
65
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
supervision on competition under the Law on Protection of Competition 10, and exercised
by the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC).
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The LRT provides specific obligations related to the public service broadcasters. According
to Art. 6 (2) LRT they shall provide inter alia for broadcasting political, economical,
cultural, scientific, educational and other socially important information; provide access
to the national and global cultural values and popularise the scientific and technical
achievements through broadcasting Bulgarian and foreign educational and cultural
programmes for all age groups.
A special provision is applicable for BNR and BNT as they provide a nationwide
programme. According to Art. 6 (3) LRT, BNR and BNT have to provide media services
for all citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria; to assist the development and popularisation
of the Bulgarian culture and Bulgarian language, as well as of the culture and the
language of the citizens in compliance with their ethnic belonging; to provide access to
the national and European cultural heritage; to inform, educate and entertain; to apply
the new information technologies; to relate the various ideas and convictions of the
society by pluralism of the points of view in each and every news and current affairs
programmes of political and economic subject; to contribute to the mutual understanding
and tolerance in the relations between people; to provide possibility for the citizens to
acquire information regarding the official position of the state on important issues of the
public life.
LRT contains detailed provisions regarding the financing through fees of the public radio
and television broadcasters, and of the CEM. For this purpose a special fund must be
created, where funds from the fees from the population must be collected. The practical
implementation of those provisions is being postponed every year since 2002 through
amendments of the law. They extend the subsidising of the public broadcasters and of
the CEM every year and from the state budget, including until the end of 2012. Thus, the
public broadcasters in Bulgaria are funded through state budget subsidies, advertising
revenues (which are more limited in scope than those of commercial broadcasters),
revenues from other activities related to the broadcasting, donations, testaments and
interests. There is no mechanism foreseen how to calculate the amount of the subsidy
and how much it is really needed to fulfil the public remit.
In accordance with Art. 32 (2) LRT the СЕМ elects and relieves from duty the General
Directors of the BNT and BNR, as well as the members of their management boards,
following proposals from the General Directors. It also issues an opinion on the draft
proposal for the state budget subsidies to the BNT and BNR.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The competent regulatory authority on the content of the private and public radio and
television programmes is the Council for Electronic Media (CEM). The Council consists of
a Management Board of 5 members, 3 of which are elected by the National Assembly,
and 2 are appointed by the President (Art. 24 Law on Radio and Television, LRT). The law
contains certain guarantees, regarding the independence of the members, for instance
the rules on incompatibility (Art. 26 and Art. 27 LRT), an obligation to declare every type
of significant interest when taking a specific decision (Art. 28 LRT), very limited options
10
State Gazette No. 102 from 28 November 2008, last amendments State Gazette No. 73 from 20
September 2011.
66
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
for relief of duty according Art. 30 LRT (resignation, continuous inability to perform
activities of more than six months, imprisonment). The bodies, who have elected or
appointed them, do not have the right to relieve them from duty.
The CEM regulates radio and audiovisual activities (linear and non-linear media services)
through registration or issuing of licenses for radio and television activities, and through
continuous supervision over the activities of the private and of the public radio
broadcasters and audiovisual media services providers. In case their activities are not in
compliance with the legal provisions or with the conditions included in the licenses, the
CEM decides whether to impose a fine on the respective radio broadcaster or media
service providers, and on the extent of it or to revoke the license or the registration.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Art. 15 LRT foresees in its section (1) that the media service providers shall disclose their
sources of information not only in cases of pending court proceedings, but also in case of
pending proceedings by CEM. According to Art. 15 (2) LRT journalists are in the former
case also obliged to disclose the sources of information not only to the audience but also
to the management of the media service providers. And Art. 15 (4) LRT says that “the
journalists shall be obliged to keep secret of the source of information if this is explicitly
requested by the person who has provided it”.
These regulations provide obligations which weaken the freedom of expression in
broadcasting when compared against Art. 10 ECHR. Not only that they foresee the active
obligation to disclose sources of information also in case of a simple authority’s demand
and also to the management of the media providers. Moreover, the person who has
provided the information must explicitly request its protection.
-
Specific positive content obligations
According to Art. 10 of the LRT, the public and private broadcasters shall be guided in
carrying out their activities by the following principles: guaranteeing the right to free
expression of opinion; guaranteeing the right to information; preservation of the secret
of the source of information; protection of the personal inviolability of the citizens; nonadmission of programmes suggesting intolerance among the citizens; non-admission of
programmes contradicting the good manners, especially if they contain pornography,
praise or excuse cruelty or violence or incite hatred based on race, sex, religion or
nationality; guaranteeing the right to reply; guaranteeing the copyright and related
rights; preservation of the purity of the Bulgarian language.
In 2011, controversial amendments of the Bulgarian Penalty Code have been adopted.
The amended Art. 162 (1) provides 1 to 4 years of imprisonment or sanctions from 5,000
BGN (2,556 Euro) to 10,000 BGN (5,113 Euro) for the incitement to discrimination,
violation and hate by mass media based on race, nationality or ethnic belongings. 11 The
imprisonment sentence of up to 4 years has been criticised as a disproportionate
measure. 12
-
11
12
Amendments State Gazette No. 33 from 26 April 2011.
See for more information OSCE/ODHIR Limited Election Observation Mission Final Report, 2011, p. 14-15.
67
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
No such funding schemes exist in Bulgaria.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
The political advertising during the pre-election campaigns has been regulated by the
new Electoral Code. 13 It provides strict rules for the public broadcaster, BNR and BNT.
According to Art. 147 (1), all campaign broadcasts of BNT and BNR and their regional
programmes are to be paid for by parties, coalitions and nomination committees
according to a predetermined tariff. Art. 147 (2) foresees only two exceptions, namely
for the closing addresses and debate appearances of presidential candidates during a
possible second round. This undermines the responsibility of the public broadcaster to
ensure a fair, balanced and thorough coverage of elections in their news and current
affairs programs. 14 The conclusion is confirmed by the report on the monitoring of the
pre-election campaign in Bulgaria for the election of the President and Vice-president as
well as of mayors and municipal councilors issued by CEM after the first election since the
new Electoral Code is entered into force. 15 Furthermore, the “private broadcasters fail to
make sufficient use of the potential freedom in their programmes to let journalism
dominate, rather than paid propaganda.”
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
In 2004, the Code of Ethics of the Bulgarian media was adopted. It is the code of conduct
for the Bulgarian journalists which applies for broadcasting, press and online services.
Regarding dissemination of truthful information to the society it provides three
obligations: correctness of the information, correction of untruthful information and using
trustful sources. Besides, the way how to collect information and which kind of
information can be disseminated is regulated. Moreover, it is foreseen that the human
dignity and personal life are inviolable and that media shall interfere with the personal or
family life only in case of significant public interest. Besides there are provisions for the
protection of minors and persons who are accused but not condemned yet.
The Code provides also for editorial independence from political end economic powers.
On the next it regulates the relationships between the different media which have to be
grounded on fair competition and observance of the copyrights. The notion “public
interest” in terms of the Code is defined as: “protection of the health, safety and
security; participation in prevention or detection of violation or abuse of power;
protection of the society to be seriously fooled.” However, the provisions of the Code do
not apply if the action in question unambiguously serves the public interest.
The “National Council for Journalistic Ethics” Foundation was established and is
responsible for monitoring the compliance with the Code. There are two commissions
within the foundation – Ethics Commission on Printed Media and Ethics Commission on
Electronic Media, each of which consists of 12 members. But since the beginning of their
work in 2006 they reviewed and decided only 18 cases with print media and 11 cases
with electronic media up to now. Most of the cases do, in view of the Commissions, not
violate the Ethic Code. The only stated violations by the Commission concerned
incorrectly given information, one-sided data entry, picking and choosing the sources of
13
14
15
State Gazette No. 9 from 28 January 2011, last amendments State Gazette No. 45 from 14 June 2011.
OSCE/ODHIR Limited Election Observation Mission Final Report, 2011, p. 16.
Report on the monitoring results on radio and television programmes of media service providers during
the pre-election campaign for the election of the president and vice-president and members of local
authorities, 23 September-23 October 2011.
68
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
information. 16 One of the reasons for the poor practice is that in cases of violation the
Commission can only publicly reprimand the respective media by expressing its
disapproval of the form or content of the contested material. There are no other
sanctions that can be imposed. In consequence the citizens prefer to use the civil or
criminal law procedures, if their rights have been abused.
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
On 31 January 2008, the Bulgarian government approved a Digital Plan for Introduction
of DVB-T in Bulgaria. 17 The Plan was updated again in April 2010 and in March 2012 for
not meeting the deadlines. According to the new Plan, the analogue/digital switch-over is
supposed to take place in two stages: Stage One is supposed to start with three national
networks (MFNs) by simulcast broadcasting on 1 March 2013. The switch-off date for the
first stage is planed for 1 September 2013. The timeframe of Stage Two depends on
when the frequencies used for analogue transmission during Stage One and the
frequencies used by the Ministry of defence will be released. Three more national
networks (MFNs) are provided on Stage Two. CRC issued permits for operation and
construction of the six national networks in 2009 and 2010. 18
The amendments of the Law on Electronic Communication (LEC) from December 2011 19
and the new Digital Plan allow for the launch of a new tender procedure for selecting a
new platform operator of a seventh national digital network before 1 September 2013.
More information on the grant of licences (permits) which provide for the right to use a
telecommunications infrastructure, particularly frequencies for the terrestrial emission of
broadcasting services, is provided supra in relation to the “market entry” of broadcasters.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
The access to distribution networks (cable and satellite) has not been regulated by law. It
is a matter of private legal agreements between the operator of the network and the
broadcaster. According to most of these agreements the network operator pays to the
broadcaster for the allowance to distribute his programmes. The regulation concerning
the access to terrestrial networks is described under “market entry” and “role of platform
operators”.
The circulation instruments for print media have not been regulated by law. But in
August 2011 the Commission for Protection of the Competition started analysing the
market for publishing and distribution of publications, because some publishing
companies had stated that 80 % of the market was dominated by the “New Bulgarian
Media Group Holding” JSC. This company publishes inter alia the dailies “Monitor”,
“Telegraph” and the weekly “Politic”.
16
17
18
19
Decision No. 12 from 20 July 2007, Decision No. 14 from 14 September 2007, Decision No. 17 from 30
October 2008.
A Summary of the first Plan in English (not updated version) can be seen at:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/current/broadcasting/switchover/national_plans/in
dex_en.htm.
See for more information the “role of platform operators”.
State Gazette No. 105 from 29 December 2011.
69
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
In regard to the broadcasting programmes, intended for terrestrial digital broadcasting,
CEM performs licensing without call of a tender, because the number of licenses is
unlimited. In addition, the CEM must define the type and profile of part of the licensed
programmes, which are mandatory for broadcasting by multiplex operators, while, for
the other part of the batch of programmes, coordinate their type and profile. Therefore,
according to the LRT the multiplex operator has to transmit three type programmes:
programmes which have must-carry status according to the law; programmes whose
type and profile have been assigned by the CEM, and programmes whose type and
profile have been agreed with the CEM. Which criteria CEM has to apply by assigning
respectively agreeing the type and profile is not regulated by the LRT. These provisions
apply only to private television programmes. For the programmes of the public
broadcaster BNT one multiplex on the Stage One has been reserved.
According to § 37 (1) of the Transitional and Final provisions of the LRT, the following
programmes have to be transmitted via terrestrial digital network by the multiplex
operator (must-carry) on the Stage One: programmes for which the broadcaster has a
nationwide license for broadcasting, which use terrestrial analogue networks, to which
not less than 50 % of the population has access to. 20 Furthermore, according to § 37a
(1), the multiplex operator has to transmit the television programmes which have been
distributed to not less than 50 percent of the population via electronic communications
networks for terrestrial analogue broadcasting at the time of launching his services. 21 On
a third place the multiplex operator must distribute two more programmes of those
broadcasters, who have a license for terrestrial analogue broadcasting with nationwide
coverage, which expires after 2010, § 37a (2). 22 These programmes have to be agreed
with the CEM, § 37a (4).
On Stage Two of the digital switch-over the multiplex operator is obliged to distribute
three programmes of which the type and profile is defined by the CEM and another three
programmes which have to be agreed with the CEM and come from broadcasters, who
have a license for terrestrial analogue broadcasting with nationwide coverage, which
expires after 2010, § 38 LRT. 23
- Role of platform operators
The issuing permit for operation and construction of electronic networks for terrestrial
digital broadcasting (multiplex) has been regulated by the rules of the telecommunication
law (Chapter 4, Section VI LEC). The competent CRC issues the permit in a tender
procedure.
On 5 June 2009, the CRC issued a permit for operation and construction of two national
networks to TOWERCOM BULGARIA for Stage One, with a duration of 15 years. On 22
June 2009, the permit for the three national networks from Stage Two was issued to
HANNU PRO BULGARIA, again with a duration of 15 years. In July 2010 CRC chose
HANNU PRO BULGARIA as well as an operator and constructer of the third national digital
20
21
22
23
De facto these are the television programmes bTV, bTV action (former Pro.BG and TV2) and Nova.
De facto this rule applies to the programmes of the registered broadcasters who received temporarily
permits according to the Law on Electronic Communication to use analogue frequencies, without having to
follow the complex procedure of analogue terrestrial licensing under the LRT, and especially the permits of
the programmes TV7 and TV2 (today the permits of TV2 belong to the bTV group). Other programmes
which meet the requirements are Bulgaria on air, Darik radio and television and Balkan Bulgarian
Television.
De facto these broadcasters are bTV and Nova.
De facto these are three programmes of bTV and three programmes of Nova.
70
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
network that is reserved for transmitting the programmes of the public broadcasters.
One of the bidders in the tender procedure for the public multiplex appealed against the
decision of the CRC. He stated that the chairman of the CRC has exercised pressure on
the other members by taking the decision. The last instance of the Supreme
Administrative Court in Sofia rejected the claim in January 2012.
The two permits for Stage One belong today to NURTS (National Governance “Radio and
Television Stations”) who bought in the summer of 2010 TOWERCOM BULGARIA. NURTS
belonged to the main fixed-line telephony operator in the country – Bulgarian
telecommunication company (BTC) who had the permit for terrestrial digital transmission
over the territory of Sofia and was the sole owner of the national analogue network which
transmits the programmes of BNT and BNR, bTV and Nova. In the summer of 2010 BTC
sold 50 % of the “NURTS” to the Cyprus offshore company Mancelord Limitted. The
acquisition of the other 50 % by the Bluesat Partners Ltd. (registered in the United Arab
Emirates) was approved by decision of the Commission for Protection of Competition
(CPC) in 2011. 24 The new name of NURTS is NURTS Digital.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Bulgarian authority for media infrastructure is the Communications Regulation
Commission (CRC), which consists of a Management Board with five members. The
chairman is appointed by the Council of Ministers, the vice chairman and two other
members are elected by the National Assembly, and one is appointed by the President
(Art. 22 Law on Electronic Communication, LEC). The provisions concerning the
independence of the Management Board are similar to those of LRT concerning CEM.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The Law on compulsory deposit of printed or other works (LCDPOW) 25 provides the
obligation for compulsory depositing printed or other works at the National Library.
According to Art. 7a of the Law, every periodical printed work shall publish information
about the “real owner” of the publication in the first issue of the year and to update the
information on the web page of the publication, if any, Art. 7a (6). Currently, the
information about the “real owner” has been published only on the web sites of the
publications belonging to the newspapers group Economedia.
Further, the publisher is obliged to submit a statement to the Ministry of Culture which
identifies his “real owner”. Every change of the “real owner” has to be published and
notified by the Ministry and the Ministry has to publish the information on its own
internet site, Art. 7a (5). This publishing obligation is fulfilled by the Ministry, but not all
publishers have submitted a statement. There is no publicly available data if sanctions
have been imposed.
The notion “real owner” is defined as “the natural persons, who are the end beneficiaries
of the ownership in the legal person, who individually or through related parties
participates in the publisher”. According to the motives to the law, the amendments shall
guarantee the transparency of the press ownership and the effective protection of the
human rights such as the protection of the honesty and reputation.
24
25
Decision No. 1098 from 30 August 2011.
State Gazette No. 108 from 29 December 2009, last amendments State Gazette No. 101 from 28
December 2010.
71
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
For broadcasters there are no obligations related to the “real owner”, but according to
Art. 125k LRT, the CEM has to maintain a public register for the linear and non-linear
media service providers and the operators who distribute Bulgarian and foreign
programmes. The register is publicly available on the web page of the CEM. 26 However,
the register contains only the information about which legal entity owns a certain media
service provider. Often, this information is worthless, because they are offshore
companies.
E.g. some journalists estimate that Tzvetan Vassilev is the real natural person who
stands behind the offshore company “Crown Media”, which owns the television
programmes TV7 and Super 7. 27 The same person is owner of the Central Cooperative
Bank, which is connected to firms like “New Bulgarian Media Group Holding” JSC. The last
one tried to monopolise the press publishing and distributing market by acquiring quite a
number of publications during the last years. It is remarkable that this group has never
fulfilled its obligation to publish and inform the Ministry of Culture about the “real owner”
of the publications.
Attention must also be paid to the fact that the Cyprus offshore company Mancelord
Limited, which acquired 50 % of the NURTS, has been represented in Bulgaria by Tzvetan
Vassilev as well. On the other hand a great amount of the state money (ministry funds
and funds of state owned companies) is deposited in the Central Cooperative Bank.
According to reports in the press from 16 February 2012 the European Commission has
begun checking unacceptable state-aid for the bank. 28
How exactly Tzvetan Vassilev is connected to the press, electronic media and the media
distribution market and who might stand behind him, is not clear. But all this shows that
there is no media ownership transparency in Bulgaria and no authority for overviewing it.
- Accountability of public service media
According to Art. 68 (1) P. 8 LRT the general directors of the public service media, BNT
and BNR, have to prepare the annual financial reports concerning their budgets. The
Managing Boards of BNT and BNR approve the financial reports. The National Audit Office
controls the legal implementation of the budgets according to the rules of the Law on the
National Audit Office. 29 This act applies to all institutions which spend state funds, but
there is no special control as regards the fulfilment of BNT’s and BNR’s public tasks.
Since June 2007 the BNT publishes on its website semi-annual reports about its
activities, e.g. about new programme formats, new film series, audience shares of the
various programmes, the activities of the regional programmes and international
activities. These reports are not mandatory and they only have the function to inform the
public. Hence it follows, that there are no publicly available reports on the activities of
BNR.
26
27
28
29
http://www.cem.bg/public_reg.php?action=1.
http://www.glasove.com/misteriya-okolo-mistur-ikonomika-17861.
http://www.trud.bg/Article.asp?ArticleId=1233044.
State Gazette No, 98 from 14 December 2010, last amendments State Gazette No. 99 from 16 December
2011.
72
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Freedom of information laws
State and local authorities are obliged to provide information of public significance
according to the procedures of the Law on access to public information 30. Any citizen of
the Republic of Bulgaria is entitled to get all information which is necessary to inform the
citizens’ fully and objectively, from public institutions. This right is often used by
journalists, especially the legal possibility to appeal to the court in case of an unlawful
refusal of access to information by the institutions.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
The public broadcaster, BNT and BNR are obliged, according to the media content
legislation, to provide media services for all citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria (Art. 6 (3)
LRT). The network operators have to distribute the programmes of BNT and BNR
according to the modalities of § 3 of the Transitional and Final Provisions of the LEC.
 “Have a Say on ...”
Every natural or legal person may submit a complaint against a radio and television
broadcaster to the CEM. The CEM has internal guidelines on how to proceed with these
complaints. According to the last report of the CEM, there were 229 complaints filed in
the first half of 2011. 58 of them were connected to the programme content and quality
and 22 were in connection with the right to reply and to get access to recorded
broadcasting content. 31
5.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
5.2.1.
Radio
The private Bulgarian radio landscape consists of four major groups. Until November
2011, they all were owned by international companies, when the SBS Broadcasting was
acquired by the A.E. Best Success Services Bulgaria Ltd., a company registered in
Bulgaria but owned by an offshore company. The remaining three foreign groups are the
Communicorp. Group, the Balkan News Corporation and the Emmis International
Holding. All of their radio stations are licensed as regional programmes but constitute
nationwide radio chains. There is only one independent private radio station which has a
single nationwide license and coverage, the news radio programme Darik.
On a public side of the radio landscape there is only the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR)
which broadcasts 8 regional programmes and three nationwide programmes (Horizont,
Hristo Botev and Bulgaria).
Altogether CEM has issued 260 licenses for terrestrial radio broadcasting and has
registered 32 radio programmes for broadcasting via cable and satellite. 32
30
31
32
State Gazette No. 55 from 7 July 2000, last amendments State Gazette No. 39 from 20 May 2011.
CEM, Activity report for the period between 01.01.2011 and 30.06.2011, p. 16, available at
http://www.cem.bg/cat.php?id=110.
The list of these programmes is available at: http://www.cem.bg. in a form of an extract from the public
registry kept by the CEM.
73
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 10 BG: Main radio broadcasters
Companies
BNR
Agency
Ltd.
Ownership
Structure
Main Radio Stations
Public
Service
Broadcaster
Vitosha A.E.
Best
Success
Services Bulgaria Ltd.
Signal Plus Ltd.
Radio 1 Ltd.
Radio Tangra JSC
Metro radio Ltd.
Horizont
Hristo Botev
Vesselina
Vitosha
The Voice
Magic FM
Express
Darik Radio JSC
Darik
Communicorp. Group. Radio 1
Veronika
Limited or through
Metro
Radio BG Radio
City
International LLC
Bulgarian
Radio Communicorp. Group.
Limited (77 %), NRJ
Company Ltd.
Ltd.(11
%),
Media
Team Ltd.(11 %) and
Liliana Drumeva (11
%)
Radio Company CJ Balkan
News
Ltd.
Corporation
R 1 Ltd.
Pleven Plus JSC
Emmis
International
Radio FM + JSC
Holding
Audience
Listenership*
29 %
10.3 %
22 %
7.1 %
4%
3.5 %
17.4 %
13.6 %
9.9 %
9.8 %
6.9 %
Radio 1 Rock
6.5 %
NJoy
Jazz FM
Classic FM
Fresh
FM +
12.2 %
3.4 %
3%
9.8 %
8.2 %
* Audience Listenership second half of 2011, + 18 years, multiple answers were possible.
Source: Alpha Research, available at:
http://alpharesearch.bg/bg/marketingovi_izsledvania/danni_i_publikacii/Radio_auditoria.
html
5.2.2.
Television
The Bulgarian television market is dominated by two international media groups: the
Modern Times Group MTG AB (MTG) and the Central European Media Enterprises (CME).
Due to several significant transactions MTG acquired in 2007 a few programmes
transmitted only via cable and satellite and in 2008 the terrestrial programmes NOVA TV,
Nova+ and 80 % of EVA magazine. At present, five more television programmes belong
to the group of Bulgaria’s second most-watched programme Nova (licensed for analogue
and digital terrestrial transmission and via cable and satellite), Nova Sport, KinoNova,
Diema and Diema Family.
In July 2008 CME bought 80 % of TV2 (today bTV Action), Ring TV (today Ring.BG) and
Mila radio station (today bTV Radio). Moreover in 2010 CME acquired the most watched
TV-channel bTV and the programmes bTV Cinema and bTV Comedy. Besides CME
acquired the rest of the shares of TV2 and launched with bTV Lady a new TV programme
in 2012. Accordingly CME has six television programmes – bTV, bTV Action, bTV Cinema,
bTV Comedy, bTV Lady and Ring.BG.
Besides these two dominant groups the cypress Offshore Company Crown Media holds
two licenses for terrestrial digital broadcasting according to the controversial Must-Carry
Rules of the LRT, 33 namely for the programmes TV 7 and Super 7.
33
See above 2.2.3.1.2.
74
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The Bulgarian public television broadcaster BNT distributes one programme with a
national analogue terrestrial coverage (BNT 1), one cable and satellite programme (BNT
World); one programme with regional analogue terrestrial coverage in 18 regions (BNT
2) and one licensed programme for terrestrial digital coverage at the territory of Sofia
(BNT Sofia).
Table 11 BG: Main television broadcasters
Broadcaster
Ownership
Structure
bTV Media Group CME Bulgaria BV
JSC
Nova
Broadcasting
Group JSC
BNT
TV 7 Seven JSC
Main
TV Audience share* Market share**
Stations
46.1 %
36.1 %
bTV
1.4 %
2.5 %
bTV Comedy
1.4 %
1.8 %
bTV Cinema
0.8 %
1.9 %
bTV Action
0.5
0.3 %
Ring.BG
bTV Lady
14.5 %
14.6 %
MTG
Broadcasting Nova
3%
2.9 %
Diema
AB (95 %)
2.3 %
2.6 %
Apace Media JSC (5 Diema Family
1.5 %
2.5 %
KinoNova
%)
0.3 %
0.2 %
Nova Sport
7.6 %
5.5 %
Public
service BNT 1
0.5 %
0.3 %
broadcaster
BNT World
BNT 2
BNT Sofia
Crown Media JSC
TV 7
1.4 %
Super 7
0.3 %
* 2011, Target All Day Audience Share. Source: TNS TV/Plan.
** 1st week of 2012, for audiences from 3 years, source: GARB, Bulgaria, available at:
http://garb.bg/online/resources_top_40.htm
5.2.3.
Press and Publishing
Since 1997, the main player on the Bulgarian newspaper market was the “Newspapers
Group Bulgaria” which belonged to the German WAZ Media Group. The group published
the most sold dailies “24 hours” (“24 chasa”) and “Work” (“Trud”), the weekly
newspapers “168 hours” and other newspapers and magazines. In December 2010, WAZ
sold its Bulgarian company to the Media Group Bulgaria - Holding Ltd.
Another important role on the press market plays the “New Bulgarian Media Group
Holding” JSC. It publishes inter alia the dailies “Monitor”, “Telegraph” and the weekly
“Politic”. Of some importance is also the Bulgarian Economedia Group. It publishes
newspapers and magazines dedicated mainly to readers who are interested in business,
such as the daily Dnevnik and the weekly Capital.
75
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 12 BG: Main publishing companies
Publishing
Companies
Main Titles
Readership*
Media
Group Lubomir Pavlov (43 %)
Bulgaria – Holding Ognyan Donev (40 %)
BG Printmedia Ltd. (17 %)
Ltd.
24 chasa
Trud
168 hours
18.9 %
17.1%
5.4 %
New
Bulgarian Balkan Media Company JSC
Media
Group
Holding JSC
Telegraph
Monitor
Politic
17.9 %
2.5 %
-
Economedia JSC
Ownership Structure
Teodor Zahov (49 %) through T3 Dnevnik
Capital
Media Ltd.
Ivo Prokopiev (51 %) through Agency
for Investor Information Ltd.
1.0 %
1.5 %
* Readership second half of 2011, + 18 years. Source: Alpha Research, available at:
http://alpharesearch.bg/bg/marketingovi_izsledvania/danni_i_publikacii/chitatelska_audi
toria.html
5.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Since 2010, when the new provision regarding the registration of providers of non-linear
services entered into force, 14 providers have been registered by the CEM. 34
Unfortunately, there is no data about the usage of these services.
In connection with the usage of the internet according to data of Alpha Research Agency
for the second half of 2011, 48 % of the population up to 18 years use the internet. 35
After the checking of email, surfing for fun, looking for a specific information, the reading
of on-line editions of newspapers and looking for news published only on-line is on a
fourth place of all activities (29 % of the population).
34
35
The list is available at: www.cem.bg/public_reg.php?action=5.
Available at:
http://alpharesearch.bg/bg/marketingovi_izsledvania/danni_i_publikacii/internet.html.
76
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 13 BG: Main internet content providers
Companies
Dir.BG JSC
bTV Media Group JSC
Investor BG JSC
Ownership Structure
Dir.BG Holding
CME Bulgaria BV
public traded company
Sportal BG JSC
Stilian Shishkov (60 %)
Dimitur Marin (40 %)
Signal Plus Ltd.
Media Group Bulgaria
Holding Ltd.
Economedia JSC
Darik Radio JSC
– Lubomir Pavlov (43 %)
Ognyan Donev (40 %)
BG Printmedia Ltd. (17 %)
Teodor
Zahov
(49
%)
through T3 Media Ltd.
Ivo
Prokopiev
(51
%)
through Agency for Investor
Information Ltd.
*
December
2011.
Source:
//www.audience.bg/pages/display/reach.
Name*
dir.bg
btv.bg
start.bg
dnes.bg
investor.bg
sportal.bg
hotnews.bg
novini.bg
Reach**
34.71 %
29.02 %
22.17 %
14.66 %
4.59 %
18.85 %
16.85 %
11.99 %
dariknews.bg
24chasa.bg
trud.bg
13.99 %
13.21 %
9.58 %
dnevnik.bg
capital.bg
12.77 %
5.92 %
gemiusAudience,
available
at:
** The percentage of visitors (real users) who generated at least one page view on the
monitored web site within the given time period to the total number of internet users
within a given time period.
5.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
According to the last CRC report (end of 2010), Bulgaria has 433 registered cable
network operators, but the number of the operators which really provide these services is
340. 36 The main players in the big cities are Blizoo Media and Broadband SJC (a merger
of Cabletel and Evrocom), Evrotursat TV SJC, M Sat SJC, Skat Ltd. There are two main
satellite network operators, Bulsatcom SJC and Vivacom (the new brand name of the
former telecommunication monopolist BTC). IPTV is becoming more popular, as of the
end of 2010 there were 25 operators. One of the more important is Vestitel BG SJC which
belongs to the gas distributing company, the Overgas Holding SJC. The company cleverly
linked the gas pipeline network with the expansion of the IPTV-network.
The most relevant internet service providers are the Vivacom, Blizoo, Easy Lan, Nexcom,
Net is Sat, Orbitel, SpectrumNet, Trance Telecom, Digital Systems, Max Telecom. The
total number of the registered operators is 589.
36
Available at: http://www.crc.bg/files/_bg/II_072010_atlastfinal.pdf.
77
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 14 BG: Main Cable/Satellite network operators and IPTV providers
Main
Cable/Satellite Ownership Structure
network operators
IPTV providers
Subscription
Market
share**
(in thousand)*
Cable
Blizoo
Media
Broadband SJC
and Bultel Cable Bulgaria SJC
1,231.1
54 %
450
31.3 %
7,2
0.1 %
Satellite
Vivacom
Bulgarian
telecommunication
company SJC
IPTV
Vestitel
Overgas Holding SJC
* The subscriber number is given per market segment (cable, satellite, IPTV) not per
provider. Applicable data of the subscription of the main providers is missing. Source:
Year Report CRC 2010, available at:
http://www.crc.bg/files/_bg/II_072010_atlastfinal.pdf.
** The market share data is given per market segment not per provider. Applicable
data of the market shares of the main providers is missing. Source: Year Report CRC
2010, available at: http://www.crc.bg/files/_bg/II_072010_atlastfinal.pdf.
5.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
The table below outlines the Audience/Readership/Usage share and the share of
advertising revenue within the media sector:
Table 15 BG: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector
Media
Audience/Readership/
Usage share
Advertising market shares
***
Television
67.3 %*
65 %
Press
29.1 %*
16 %
Radio
43.8 %*
8%
Outdoor
-
7%
Internet
48 %**
4%
* The audience (TV and radio) and readership data as of 2009. Unfortunately there is no
actual data. Source: Open Society Institute.
** Internet users as of the second half of 2011, Source: Alpha Research Bulgaria.
*** Data as of 2010, Source: Piero 97/TV Plan TNS.
78
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
5.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The freedom of expression, the freedom of the media and the freedom of information are
guaranteed in the Bulgarian Constitution, Legislation and in the Code of Conduct
concerning the media. However, there are some legal regulations which weaken these
guarantees. This applies in particular to the inadequate protection of information sources
(Art. 15 LRT), the unbalanced rules for election advertising in public programmes and the
restriction for the transmission of parliamentary sessions to public broadcasters.
Furtheron, the current legislation does not provide sufficient guarantees for CEM and CRC
members, as far as these concern the independence from political powers or economic
interests, mainly due to the fact that they are directly appointed/elected by state
institutions without a special legal provision for their nomination. It could be considered
as a positive input on their independence, if the number of institutions having the right to
nominate the members would be expanded, preferably by organisations and institutions
of civil society, and if only the parliament would have the right to elect the members by a
qualified majority instead of the simple majority foreseen at present.
At the beginning of the summer 2010 a working group has been established by the
Council of Ministers. It had to prepare a draft for the new Law on radio and television
until the End of November 2010. The major issue of the new Law was the reform of the
public broadcasters. But until today there is no such draft and no public information
about any results of or its continued existence. Apparently the existing law satisfies the
major political interests. According to current reports, there are amendments in
discussion which concern the merger of the two public broadcasters, BNR and BNT, but
do not consider their structural and financial strengthening. Obviously there are also no
considerations with regard to an enforcement of the independence of the media
authorities (CEM, CRC) from governmental influence. A restructuring of the CEM would
help to improve the structural independence of BNT and BNR. In regard to the financial
strengthening of the public broadcasters the future law should moreover include rules on
how to determine their financial needs and on an independent commission examining
them on legally prescribed remits and their implementation by programmes. The budget
should then be included into the State budget for the financing of BNR and BNT.
Furthermore, the fact is remarkable that Bulgaria has no specific media concentration law
and that the regulations for ownership transparency are incomplete and inconsistent.
Although there is the legal duty to disclose the economically-benefiting natural person
behind a print media publishing company (“real owner”), this obligation is neither fulfilled
by all concerned nor enforced consistently by the authorities. Moreover, this regulation
ignores the whole electronic media market and its importance for the formation of
opinions. According to the statement of the chairman of the Commission for Protection of
the Competition (CPC), given in an interview for “mediapool.bg” on 10 February 2012,
the Commission “ … has no power to examine who is behind the straw man and therefore
it reviews only the obvious form of ownership of the companies”. 37 Therefore, it is
advisable that the legislator strengthens the Commission’s powers in this respect. If
Bulgaria adopts special rules and regulations on media concentration, a special
department at the CPC could efficiently review these cases, because it has the expert
knowledge, experience and a large databank.
The Bulgarian legal framework with regard to the digitalisation shows no sufficient
system but gives the impression of an at least partially case-related regulation with some
inconsistencies in terms of European Union law. Therefore, the European Commission has
79
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
already taken initial steps of an infringement procedure. In question is inter alia the
Bulgarian provision that an operator of a digital multiplex may not be a broadcaster at
the same time, wherefore the ORF was excluded from the application procedure of 2009.
On the other hand, the strict enforcement of this incompatibility regulation is highly
questionable if the permits for the digital “Stage One” are given to an offshore company
(NURTS), which is naturally not accessible to full transparency. Beyond, the Bulgarian
must-carry rules for the digital spectrum seem to be questionable for it concerns their
ability to ensure pluralism. Because in consequence of their application essentially only
two families of channels dominate the digital capacity. Also for the remaining capacity
spectrum no sufficient criteria for plurality have been established yet. Finally, it is already
clear that Bulgaria can not comply with the European timelines for the digitalisation, even
after it revised its digitalisation plan.
It remains that Bulgaria needs to review its media legislation, especially with regard to
the implication of digitalisation. But also the legal standards concerning pluralism,
transparency and the fundamental freedom of the media such as the freedom of
expression, need to be reviewed and further developed.
The experience of recent amendments to the media laws show that important changes
were always adopted immediately before parliamentary elections. Following this rule, an
amendment can not be expected until 2013. Whether it will meet the requirements
described remains to be seen.
37
Available at http://www.mediapool.bg.
80
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
6.
CYPRUS
Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004 as a divided country. The jurisdiction of
the Republic of Cyprus extends to the whole island, but it was accepted that the acquis
communautaire/unionaire fully applies to the territory under the Republic's government
effective control, until the island is re-united. The information provided in the present
report refers to the institutional framework of the Republic of Cyprus and the media
operating under effective authority of its government.
6.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
6.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
Freedom of expression is guaranteed under article 19 of the Constitution.
Article 19 of the Constitution provides for “the right to freedom of speech and expression
in any form” and its component rights, the “formalities, conditions, restrictions and
penalties” that govern its exercise, the case of eventual seizure of newspapers and other
printed matter by the authorities and the authority of the Republic to require “licensing of
sound and vision broadcasting or cinema services”.
“Article 19.
1. Every person has the right to freedom of speech and expression in any form.
2. This right includes freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information and
ideas without interference by any public authority and regardless of frontiers.
3. The exercise of the rights provided in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article may be
subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by
law and are necessary only in the interests of the security of the Republic or the
constitutional order or the public safety or the public order or the public health or the
public morals or for the protection of the reputation or rights of others or for
preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence or for maintaining the
authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
4. Seizure of newspapers or other printed matter is not allowed without the written
permission of the Attorney-General of the Republic, which must be confirmed by the
decision of a competent court within a period not exceeding seventy-two hours, failing
which the seizure shall be lifted.
5. Nothing in this Article contained shall prevent the Republic from requiring the licensing
of sound and vision broadcasting or cinema enterprises.”
One may notice that the requirement for any constraint to freedom of expression to be
'necessary in a democratic society' is missing from the above definition. It is also
noteworthy that the Attorney General, who is also the legal advisor of the government, is
the authority that initiates seizure of a newspaper or printed matter, and not the court,
which nevertheless can intervene on the issue within seventy-two hours.
81
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Article 18 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
stipulating that “all religions are equal before the Law”; it also makes provision for the
effective exercise and profession of faith and religion.
Article 20 provides for the “right to freedom of peaceful assembly” and the “right to
freedom of association, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the
protection of own interests”.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus contains no provisions regarding regulatory
authorities.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
Article 171 provides for the broadcasting of sound and vision programmes according to
specific quotas in Greek and Turkish languages (for the Greek and the Turkish
communities).
6.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The broadcasting law, Ο περί Ραδιοφωνικών και Τηλεοπτικών Σταθμών Νόμος [Law on
Radio and Television Stations] L. 7(I)/1998 that incorporates fundamental provisions of
the European Union AVMS Directive, voted in 2010 and 2011, provides in article 14 that
broadcasting licences are granted to serve the public interest. Among the
powers/prerogatives of the regulator established by the law, the Radio and Television
Authority (art. 3(2)), are the following:
 To “ensure the editorial and creative independence of the employees of the
audiovisual media services provider and to avert/disallow
interventions and influencing their editorial and creative work”;
interferences,
 To “oversee the real ownership situation of the AVMS providers aiming at ensuring
their independence, as well as excluding any tendencies, actions or attempts for
concentrations, oligopolies or monopolies” in the media.
Editorial and creative independence are also among the criteria for assessing an
application for a license, along with the capacity of the applicants to ensure pluralism and
maximum access in their programmes (art. 22.(1)(d)).
The law makes provision for ensuring broad coverage of broadcasting services, requiring
a free-to-air or AVMS provider to cover at least 75% of the population in order to get an
'island-wide' licence. It is noteworthy that 67.4% of the population lives in urban areas,
and the above obligation might exclude most remote communities from access to
television broadcasting.
Article 26 of the Law on Radio and Television Stations provides for the obligation of radio
and television organisations to provide programmes characterised by fairness,
completeness, pluralism and maximum access of the public and its agents, respect for
the dignity, reputation and the private life of individuals and respect for democratic ideals
82
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
and human rights. In the same article there is special reference to news and current
affairs programmes, required to feature fairness and pluralism.
There is no online media-specific legislation, except for Video On Demand, and the
operations of cable and satellite audiovisual services remain also unregulated. This poses
among other a serious problem of fair competition, where cable and IP TV providers are
subject to no rules with regard to content or rights on content.
The Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation
decides on technical and operational aspects, while the Competition Commission
examines competition. The issue of regulating cable and satellite was raised in the course
of discussions for the adoption of the AVMS Directive and the introduction of digital
television, but no decision was taken. In a recent case, CYTA was granted a licence for IP
television CYTAVISION CINEMA and CYTAVISION SPORTS without having the required by
the law ownership structure. The Authority gave the company a three months deadline to
settle the matter.
The Corporation's obligations as public service broadcaster were set in regulations voted
in 2003, 1 which provide for specific quota for information, culture and entertainment
programmes. Thus, the broadcaster's public service remit is limited to a “balanced set of
services”, meaning at least 40% of television programming dedicated to information and
10% to cultural programmes, and a maximum of 50% of entertainment programmes.
The respective quota for radio services are 25%, 5% and 70%. Regulations 4, 5 and 6
list the type of programmes that fall under each of the above categories.
The Press Law (ο Περί Τύπου Νόμος) L. 145/1989 sets no prerequisites for the
publication of a newspaper or a magazine in the Republic other than the registration of
the title with the Minister of the Interior. 2 With regard to ownership the law requires that
the owner(s) of the publication be named on the registration form, or following a change
in ownership, with their details; no details are asked to be communicated with respect to
shareholding (if any) and no restrictions exist in relation to ownership concentrations,
mergers or other changes.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
Ownership in the press sector is completely free of any rules or constraints. The only
requirement of the law with respect to publishing a newspaper or a magazine (defined
according to periodicity) is to register the title and name of the person (legal or natural)
that owns it. Changes in ownership have to be reported by the new owner(s). The details
of the owner(s) and the name of the person responsible under the law – in case a
company is the owner - should be published on every issue on a page of the newspaper
or magazine (Press Law, articles 9, 11, 13).
In the case of the electronic media, following the incorporation of provisions of the AVMS
Directive into Cyprus law, its coverage is no more radio or television stations alone but
radio and television organisations and AVMS providers.
Ownership issues are thoroughly examined during the licensing procedure. Information
about shareholders, shares, and funding sources (loans etc) must be provided in the
application, including a declaration under oath by every shareholder as to shares owned
and kinship relations. Several provisions in article 19 of the law on Radio Television
1
2
Normative Administrative Acts, KDP 616/2003, Official Gazette, 25.7.2003.
The procedure goes through the Press and Information Office, the government's publicity services.
83
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Stations L.7(I)/1998 aim at limiting both horizontal and vertical ownership concentrations
in the media sector. The main objectives are to:
 Limit direct or indirect interests/control in a licensee's share capital to a ceiling of
25%, except in the case of a radio organisation with local coverage, where the
ceiling is 40%, and a radio organisation with small local coverage, where no ceiling
is required;
 Apply the ceiling to both legal and natural persons, including relatives up to second
degree or husband and wife and to companies linked as affiliated or else;
 Further breaking down to a ceiling of 10% shareholding in companies that hold
shares in a licensee;
 Limit participation in decision making bodies of the licensed organisation and
companies holding shares in its capital, in a way that the same persons do not
participate in more than one media;
 Ensure that no license is transferred to persons other than those that were granted
it;
 Ensure transparency in shareholding, where if company B holds shares in a
company A, where company A is a shareholder in a Licensed company L, then
company B can have only natural persons as shareholders, and;
 Ensure that no changes in shareholding, decision making officials or the
memorandum of association of the licensee take place without the Authority's prior
approval.
The only exception in requiring the Authority's prior approval for transfers of shares is for
broadcasting organisations listed in the stock market; the Authority's approval is required
only in cases where the transfer results in one's shares go beyond or below a threshold
of 5% of the licensee's share capital.
No one can have more than a television license and no one can have more than a radio
license (article 18) which means that a person can own one radio and one television
organisation. Networking between channels is prohibited.
Foreign, meaning non-EU, ownership is possible only to a ceiling of 5% per person, with
a maximum foreign ownership set to 25%. In both cases the approval of the council of
ministers is required.
With regard to cross media ownership, a company cannot be granted a licence for radio
or television if its shareholders hold shares of more than 5% in a publishing house,
newspaper or magazine or more than 5% in a radio or in a television organisation with
national coverage.
Similarly, no company is granted a radio organisation licence if it owns or controls in any
way more than 5% shares in a publishing house, newspaper or magazine or more than
5% in a television organisation with national coverage. A television license is not granted
to a company whose shareholders own or control in any way more than 5% in a
publishing house, or newspaper or a magazine.
84
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
One of the main problems is to ascertain the beneficial owners of shares, which prompted
the Authority to take measures, such as interviews with the interested persons and
other, before proceeding to granting a licence.
With no provision made for the media sector in the relevant laws, it is up to the
Commission for the Protection of Competition to examine a case with regard to the
general competition and mergers rules. A prominent case in this respect emerged in
2004, when the Commission found that exclusivity rights granted by Κυπριακή
Ομοσπονδία Ποδοσφαίρου [Cyprus Football Federation – KOP) to pay-TV channel LTV for
television transmission of football matches breeched the competition laws. The
Commission consequently granted the two partners individual exemption. This meant for
LTV continuing to have exclusivity rights on football transmissions until 2011. Recourse
to the Supreme Court by ANTENNA television channel and CYTA, provider of IP TV
MiVision led to the Court cancelling the Commission's decision in 2007 and giving football
clubs the right to individually negotiate the rights for televised transmission of their
football matches. The market of sports television rights is now fully open to competition
with more players, albeit with viewers needing a multiplicity of subscriptions in order to
watch sports. 3
The Competition Commission has little to do on the general issue of company mergers;
given that no change in licensed companies/organisations can take place without prior
approval by the Radio Television Authority, it is likely that no such issue can come before
the Commission; it has to be resolved in compliance with the Law on Radio and
Television Stations 7(I)/1998. The Competition Commission, however, can have a role on
agreements of cooperation/alliance with others, in particular on content and exclusive
rights. Thus, among others, in February 2012 it started an investigation on an agreement
offering CYTA exclusive rights on the programme of NOVA Greece; the case was
forwarded to them by the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal
Regulation because “the law does not give the Commissioner authority to examine issues
of content or exclusive television rights”. 4
In sum, the operation of cable and satellite services providers in a legal vacuum allows
them to compete with broadcasters from a privileged position; offering tens of different
channels, these operators offer also internet services and telephony along with cellular
telephony. They have a clear advantage over the broadcasters.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The law governing the operation of the public broadcaster (RIK) is Ο περί Ραδιοφωνικού
Ιδρύματος Κύπρου Νόμος (The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation Law), which
incorporates in Cap. 300A also the main provisions of the AVMS Directive. According to
Article 16A, voted with the amending Law on Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation L.
116(I)/2003, RIK was designated as the provider of public broadcasting services, while in
art. 16B the Radio Television Authority was named as the quality supervisory body that
would report yearly on RIK's fulfilment of its mission.
The public service broadcaster RIK is funded through an annual state grant, while at the
same time it is allowed to have advertising and undertake other commercial activities.
3
4
See, Christophorou C. 'Cyprus' in Blackshaw, I. et al. (eds), TV Rights and Sport, Legal Aspects, TMC
Asser Press, Hague, 2009: 299-308, and merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2011/9/article10.en.html.
CYTA is the Telecommunications Authority, which has not yet been privatised and keeps a dominant
position in the market of telecommunications, offering also Internet services and IP television. See,
http://www.ocecpr.org.cy/media/documents/Announcements/ElectronicCom/EC_Announc_Demosieuma_P
hilelefterou_Gr_30-01-2012_PM.doc.
85
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
State grants replaced the old system of a special fee paid by each household, indexed
later on electricity bills. Income from the State grant and advertising in recent years was
as follows:
Table 16 CY: State grant and income from advertising
Revenue of the public service broadcaster RIK
Income
2006
State Subsidy 25,279,575
Advertising
4,064,195
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
25,893,558
30,886,007
31,914,610
43,137,050
40,000,000
4,796,283
5,862,580
5,121,518
4,577,276
n.a.
Source: Annual reports of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The law on Radio and Television Stations 7(I)/1998 provides for extensive powers to the
Cyprus Radio Television Authority in all aspects and in a way to ensure its independence
and efficient exercise of its powers. Its jurisdiction extends also to some degree to the
public broadcaster, the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, even though it is governed by a
different law and a body of governors. The Authority oversees in particular issues of
content, in particular those provisions incorporating the AVMS Directive, and the
fulfilment of the Corporation's remit as a public service body. However, with the
amending Law 5 transposing the AVMSD, supervision on content causing feelings of
hatred based on race or other, and the need for protection of minors was omitted from
the Authority’s powers.
The powers invested in the Authority with regard to commercial providers, as well as to
the public service broadcaster, are extensive and all its decisions are executable
irrespective of any recourse to the courts. Judicial review exercised by the Supreme
Court is the only means through which the Authority's decisions can be cancelled. The
Authority can also refer a case to a court asking the issuance of an order or a prohibition,
including a provisional order so that an end is put to a breach.
Delays in the examination and decision-making is the main backdrop with regard to the
regulator's performance that may affect efficient enforcement of the law.
In the case of the governing body of the public broadcaster RIK, the chairman and
members are appointed by the council of ministers for three years. The law sets no
incompatibility with holding an office in a political party; the chairman of the present
board of governors is member of the central committee of a political party and several
members of the board hold high positions in political parties. This, and incidents of
interference/pressures by political forces and politicians pose a problem as to the
potential of the board to enforce its authority and to achieving real independence of the
public broadcaster.
5
Law on Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, L. 117(I)/2010, Official Gazette, 10.12.2010, p.1019.
86
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
The only legal instrument that warrants the right to access to information, albeit by
media only, and the obligation of authorities to offer access to requested information is
the Press Law (ο Περί Τύπου Νόμος) L. 145/1989; article 7 provides for the right of
journalists to seek, receive and impart information, restricted on grounds of state
security, public order, protection of individual rights and other.
The definition of “journalist” in the law is broad as to cover all media professionals, both
Cypriots and aliens, not only those in printed media or with editorial tasks alone.
In contradiction to the above, a provision in the law on Public Service (Ο περί Δημόσιας
Υπηρεσίας Νόμος) L. 1/1990 stipulates that all kind of information a public employee
comes across in the exercise of his/her duties must be treated as confidential; it can be
communicated to third parties only following authorisation by the competent authority,
i.e. the minister as specified in the law.
This often raises complaints on behalf of media professionals, while at the same time it is
used by some officials as a way to expressly 'punish' media showing thus their discontent
for their stance.
In the same law, art. 9 provides for the right not to disclose one's sources of information,
except following decision by courts or a criminal investigator related to a criminal case
and for reasons of a superior public interest.
Libel and defamation was decriminalised in 2003 and is now a civil law issue; 6 however
media professionals express grave concerns over provisions allowing court orders
(provisionally) prohibiting publication on a subject. 7 Libel cases against media is a fairly
frequent phenomenon.
In addition to the above, the Law on the Retention of Telecommunications Data for the
Investigation into Criminal Offences, L.183(I)2007, was found by the Supreme Court to
be in breach of art. 17 of the Constitution on secrecy of communication and also go
beyond the scope and goals of the Directive 2006/24/EC on data retention. 8 The Court
did not take into account the sixth amendment of the Constitution voted in the meantime
(June 2010) that allowed interference with the right to secrecy of communication in
specific cases.
In May 2010, the police proceeded to the seizure of computers for personal and
professional use of a young lawyer in the framework of an investigation of threats
published in a blog suspected to be managed by him. It appears that seizure of
computers in the framework of police investigations for suspected offences constitutes a
regular practice, which raises concerns for interference with the right to secrecy of
communication.
6
7
8
See www.apostoloulaw.com/pdf_Defamation_Article.pdf; for more details see www.osce.org/fom/41958,
pp. 45-47.
See Phileleftheros newspaper, 21/02/2009, p. 3, where legal experts, politicians and others express their
views following a similar order against the newspaper.
See http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2011/4/article14.en.html.
87
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Specific positive content obligations
The law contains no provision on specific positive content obligations.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
No funding schemes exist for specially desired content.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
In accordance with article 45(1) of the law on Radio and Television Stations 7(I)/1998,
which stipulates that various social agents, such as political parties and candidates to
official offices, trade unions and others must enjoy fair treatment by broadcasters,
regulations voted in April 2006 9 set the parameters that would define fairness
(proportionality, presence in parliament and overall organisation). A new amendment of
the law, in 2009, extended these provisions to cover elections to the European
Parliament. Following Supreme Court decisions in October 2002 and September 2005,
declaring a regulation banning political advertising as ultra vires of the law, amendments
of the broadcasting laws were voted in January 2003 and April 2006 allowing political
advertising and setting the parameters (time ceiling) for its screening on commercial and
the public broadcaster. 10 The latter offers also free airtime to parties and candidates for
presenting their electoral programme.
In their daily schedule, all broadcasters include current affairs programmes, with access
mostly if not almost exclusively offered to political parties and the government. 11
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
Article 3 of the Press Law L. 145/1989 provided for the establishment of a Press Council
that would ensure the freedoms and independence of the Press, would defend its rights
and ensure respect for professional ethics, according to codes of conduct it would issue.
The short-lived Press Council never had an efficient operation due to the refusal of media
professionals to accept the inclusion in the Council of members nominated by political
parties; this was considered as political interference with media freedoms.
Large parts of the Law, therefore, remain inoperative since the first years of its
implementation; the functions assigned to these bodies by the Law are exercised by the
authorities.
Regulation 20(2) of the Regulations on Radio and Television Stations, KDP 10/2000
requires from the broadcasters the setting-up of internal ethics commissions, responsible
for maintaining a high standard of programmes, organise seminars on ethical issues for
their personnel and report to the Authority at least three times per year. It is not known
to what extent this is enforced.
Media professionals, namely the Union of Journalists, the Association of Publishers and
the owners of broadcasting media, established in 1997 their own self-regulatory body,
the Cyprus Media Complaints Commission [Επιτροπή Δημοσιογραφικής Δεοντολογίας –
9
10
11
Normative Administrative Acts, KDP. 193/2006, Official Gazette, 28.4.2006.
Amending laws, L.24(I)/2003, Official gazette 31.01.2003, L.85(I)2006 on Radio and Television Stations
and L.83(I)/2006 on Radio Broadcasting Corporation, Official Gazette, 20.04.2006.
On the quality of newspapers and television coverage of politics and the Cyprus Issue, see, Christophorou,
Christophoros; Sanem Sahin & Synthia Pavlou, 2010. Media Narratives, Politics and the Cyprus Problem,
PRIO Report 1. Nicosia ISBN: 978-82-7288-323-1, online at
http://www.prio.no/upload/Media%20Narratives,%20Politics%20and%20the%20Cyprus%20Problem.pdf.
88
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
CMCC] and their Code of Journalistic Ethics [Κώδικας Δημοσιογραφικής Δεοντολογίας]. 12
RIK, the public broadcaster, joined them later. In respect of the code of ethics, the law
on broadcasting L.7(I)/1998 provided that the Radio Television Authority would examine
cases of journalistic ethics only after a request by the CMCC. Following the incorporation
of the Code as Appendix VIII of the Regulations (Normative Administrative Acts KDP
10/2000) on Radio Television Stations, in 2000, the Radio Television Authority examined
various cases related to breeches of the Code. The court decision pointed at the
requirements of the Law with re to the examination of issues pertaining to the Code of
Ethics forcing the Authority to abide by the ruling. In any case the CMCC and the Union
of Journalists have repeatedly made it clear that they do not wish state authorities to get
involved in media ethical issues. During 2011, some parliamentarians and the Radio
Television Authority promoted the idea of amending the law in order to enable the
Authority to examine breeches related to the Code of Conduct. This has not materialised
so far.
The Code includes the basic rules and principles related to the exercise of the profession,
the seeking of information, respect for the truth, the rights of children, of persons in
grief, and other issues.
The CMCC which is chaired by a former judge and minister, includes nine persons
representing media professionals and three non media personalities; it has so far issued
a number of decisions following complaints by people or initiated by the Commission, but
its only weapon other than its moral authority, is the obligation of the concerned media
to publish its verdict. This is not always respected. No regular activity report is published
by CMCC.
Fifteen years after the Code was signed, activities such as public or media internal
seminars for educating journalists in professional standards set in the Code, have almost
never taken place; under these conditions, one may wonder about the exact number of
media professionals that are aware of the existence of the Code and its content.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Authority's chairman, who is the only member of the regulator to serve as a full-time
executive, and the members of the Authority are nominated by the council of ministers
for a term of office of six years. The chairman's appointment can be renewed only once;
his post as well as those of the members are incompatible with having direct or indirect
interests in an AVMS provider/organisation or RIK (the public broadcaster), or holding a
post or an office in a political party. No provision is made for the case of having interests
in other businesses of the media/audiovisual sector.
The Authority's activity focuses almost exclusively on monitoring and imposing sanctions,
drastically limiting its regulatory remit. Efficiency of its work is affected by long delays in
decision making, due to lengthy procedures of examination of cases imposed by law and
the very large number of cases to examine. One may also note that media experience
and expertise outside the public broadcaster started developing only after the 1990s.
12
http://www.cmcc.org.cy/code_pradice2.html.
89
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
The management of the spectrum lies with the authority of the Department of Electronic
Communications of the Ministry of Communications and Works. The attribution of
frequencies is done with the granting of the broadcasting licence on the basis of a plan
that is designed by the DEC in cooperation with the Radio Television Authority. When
frequencies are available, interested parties are invited by the Radio Television Authority
to submit an application, which is evaluated in accordance to specific criteria set in the
Law on Radio Television Stations L. 7(I)/1998 and Regulations. Pluralism, the skills and
qualifications of the personnel, the quality of the installations and equipment and other
considerations are taken into account.
The public service broadcaster manages its own frequencies and it is not subject to the
above system.
 Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
The contracts and the terms for carrying the channels' programmes had to comply with a
framework set by the Office of the Commissioner for Electronic Communications and
Postal Regulation (OCECPR).
With regard to the distribution of newspapers and magazines, art. 16 of the Press Law
L.145/1989 stipulates that this can be done either by the publisher or by a press
distribution agency. Press distribution agencies and sub-agencies are required to have a
licence from the Minister of the Interior, granted following the advice of the Press
Authority. However this Authority has almost never functioned.
Articles 20 to 22 of the Law stipulate that press distributor agencies, sub-agencies,
kiosks and newspaper distributors have the obligation to distribute without discrimination
newspapers and magazines; article 23 provides that offenders or any one obstructing the
free circulation of newspapers is liable to a fine up to 8,500 Euros.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
Following the switch-over to digital television, the only commercial platform operator,
Velister Ltd, has the obligation to carry the signal of all licensed TV (and radio) channels
on the basis of contracts signed with them.
- Role of platform operators
According to statements by the licensee (see http://www.velister.com.cy) its network
would cover more than 95% of the population.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Radio Television Authority is granting frequencies with the broadcasting licence on
the basis of a distribution scheme designed by the Department of Electronic
Communications of the Ministry of Communications and Works and a frequencies plan
they designed together. The two bodies are in close cooperation as the DEC is
responsible for monitoring and verifying compliance with technical issues, connected with
equipment standards and specifications, installations and others. Decisions and sanctions
can only be taken by the Authority.
90
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
With regard to networks, the main tasks lie with the authority of the OCECPR who
regulates and sets the parameters of operation of the networks and terms and conditions
that govern the relations between broadcasters and network operator. A close
cooperation between the above three authorities is required, each one being responsible
for specific areas.
The basic terms and conditions, and level of fees set in the agreements are determined in
a general framework decided by the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and
Postal Regulation (OCECPR).
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
Article 20 of the Law on Radio and Television Stations L. 7(I)/1998 requires the
publication in two dailies of the names of persons that own more than 5% of a licensee's
share capital, in January every year or one month following a change in shareholding.
The Radio and Television Authority is required by the Law L. 7(I)/1998 to draft a report
on pluralism and ownership every three years and submit it to the Council of Ministers
and to the Parliament. The report includes the number of shareholders in each licensee,
but crucial data, such as names and size of shares, are missing. This does not allow full
transparency and the public to know who really owns or controls the media. Such an
information can be requested from the Registrar of Companies as defined in the
Company Law Ch. 113, upon payment of an access fee.
The case of the media ownership data is indicative of paradoxical approaches and
passivity: while detailed data on shares and shareholders are by law deposited to the
Radio Television Authority, while broadcasters shall and do publish the names of
shareholders having more than 5% of their capital, this information does not appear in
the report on pluralism submitted by the Authority to the Council of Ministers and to the
House of Representatives. The fact that this information is missing from all reports
submitted to this day might mean that it has never been requested.
- Accountability of public service media
The public service broadcaster RIK is supervised by the Radio Television Authority with
regard to content and its PSB remit. The Authority's annual report is sent to the Minister
of Interior. The finances of the broadcaster and in particular with respect to what falls
under the chapter 'public grants' are audited by the Auditor General of the Republic. The
Auditor's comments and observations are published in his annual report, submitted to the
President of the Republic that shall laid it to the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives exercises also control through the vote of the budget of
the PSB.
- Freedom of information laws
On the general issue of citizens' right to access to information, a study conducted in 2011
revealed a variety of problems. One of the recommendations of the study is for
authorities to set a clear legal framework, because “In the absence of a clearly defined
91
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
legal framework, public officials from both sides of the island are reluctant to publish
information or respond to requests for fear of sanctions from superiors. 13
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
The law contains no access restrictions or satellite installation obstacles for the citizens
and stipulates no fee to be paid to the state.
No exemptions are provided to broadcasting license fee and no subsidies exist for
subscription to print media or other. However, media equipment (presses, broadcasting
material, journalist material, computers, cars etc) are purchased tax-free.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
Decisions and actions by public bodies except decisions by the Council of Ministers can be
the object of a complaint to the Ombudsman. However, decisions on such complaints,
circumstantial as they might be, even though useful cannot remedy for the many
difficulties encounter by citizens in search of information held by public bodies
/authorities.
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
There is no tradition of viewers' and listeners' councils participating in bodies of media
operators. The only bodies in which private persons or representatives participate are the
Advisory Committee of the Radio Television Authority and the Cyprus Media Complaints
Commission, the self regulatory body of media professionals. The Advisory Committee of
the RTA has never been fully constituted – even functioning yet, due to gaps or
vagueness of the Law 7(I)/1998. With regard to the CCMC, which is/should be composed
by nine members representing the media professionals and owners and three private
persons, no public record is available to confirm or indicate whether private individuals
are participating.
6.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
As already noted, the report will cover the state of regulation and media in the areas
under the effective control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
The expansion of cable and satellite as from 2004 and the switch-over to digital in July
2011 are the milestones that brought significant changes to the audiovisual media
landscape. On the other hand, we are witnessing tendencies for the development of
media conglomerates; vertical media ownership has expanded, while the importance
attributed by media owners to Internet opportunities has grown.
The main media organisations are the following:
 DIAS Publishing company owns or is affiliated to Sigma and Sigma Sports 1 & 2
television channels, Radio Proto, Super FM, Sport & Star FM radio channels,
Newspapers Simerini (daily) and City Free Press, more than a dozen weekly,
13
http://www.accessinfocyprus.eu/images/access-info/final_report/.
Draft_Report_and_Recommendations_for_Consultation_24_Feb_2011_web.pdf.
92
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
monthly and specialised magazines, and one news and one business magazine
internet portals.
 Phileleftheros Public Company, owns or is affiliated with, Newspapers O
Phileleftheros (daily) and Cyprus Weekly (English language weekly).
 Sfera and Kiss FM radio channels, More than a dozen weekly, monthly and
specialised magazines, News, sports and general interest Internet portals, and
Proteas printers.
 Arktinos Publishers Ltd, owns or is affiliated with, Newspaper Politis, (daily), 2-3
magazines, and 107.6 FM radio channel.
 Alfamedia Services Ltd owns or is affiliated with Alitheia (daily), and SuperSport FM
and Dromos radio channels.
6.2.1.
Radio
Radio has presented little change in recent years, with the attachment/affiliation of some
channels to newspaper organisations being the most important. The public service
broadcaster Ραδιοφωνικό Ίδρυμα Κύπρου [Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation – RIK]
created in 2006 its 4th Programme, bringing their total radio channels to four. There are
also ten commercial channels with nation-wide coverage, among which a couple of music
and one sports channel. 14 In the absence of any official audit services, one should be
cautious with regard to ratings and audience data. However, the channels RIK Trito and
radio Proto have the higher share among news and current affairs stations, while music
channels Super FM and Sfera are the thematic most popular channels, attracting mostly
young audiences.
In addition to the above, another 36 local and 6 with limited local coverage radio stations
operate in the small market of the Republic and a highly competitive environment. Thus,
most of these stations have very low ratings and income and they offer mostly or only
music.
6.2.2.
Television
The digital switch-over of 1 July 2011 modified the television landscape; no local
coverage licences were attributed, which led to the disappearance of those who could not
afford switching-over to digital. Thus all but one of the seven local channels and one payTV channel, ALPHA, terminated their programmes. Some saw new opportunities, so new
channels were created by already existing or new organisations; MADcy, NRG and
MusicTV enriched existing programmes with their thematic, mainly music, content;
Capital TV turned from a local to a national coverage channel, while audiovisual media
services networks and LTV pay-TV broadcaster created more or own channels for
specialised programmes (sports and cinema).
14
Data from http://www.crta.org.cy/default.asp?id=255.
93
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 17 CY: Selective television yearly audience share since the previous
report
Channel
RIK1
RIK2
MEGA
ANT1
SIGMA
PlusTV
ERT (Greece)
TOTAL viewership
Pay TV
2005
%
2007
%
2010
%
2011
%
13.1
5.3
15.5
22.0
18.8
1.6
3.0
79.3
13.4
6.3
14.3
20.7
21.3
4.1
2.2
82.3
13.2
3.8
16.6
17.4
20.8
3.8
1.8
77.4
30 Jan. 5 Feb. 2012
%
13.8
2.2
14.9
15.5
20.7
3.7
1.2
73.0
n.a.
2.8*
1.8
16.4
n.a.
8.9*
11.4
1.2
4.2
n.a.
14.0*
14.8
66.8
68.1
65.9
59.7
n.a
2006
%
13.8
15.9
6.1
6.9
17.6
17.8
19.7
18.5
23.5
21.3
--3.2
3.0
83.9
83.4
In
In OthersCY In
OthersCY
14.0
15.3
OthersCY
Rest
2.2
(DVD+Others)
Viewers/Populatio
66.2
n
* For December 2011
OthersCY
Compiled from data provided by AGB /Nielsen Cyprus
Two licences for the creation of digital networks were granted, to the public broadcaster
RIK (Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation) and to Velister Ltd. The public broadcaster can
use its license only for transmission of broadcasting content; RIK transmits the
programme of its two channels, RIK1 and RIK2, of the public Greek broadcaster ERT and
Euronews. The private Velister Ltd was created by the private broadcasters and the
networks Primetel and Cablenet. It won a multiple round auction for obtaining a licence,
in 2010, against CYTA (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority) and Greek company LRG
Enterprises Ltd by offering 12 times the reserved price of 850,000 Euros. It carries the
programmes of nine open-to-air channels and of pay-TV LTV, which offers a variety of
channels. Licenses were also granted to CytaVision and Primetel networks for specialised
channels.
In the new environment, the first results show that the overall ratings of the big
broadcasters are declining to the benefit of newcomers and the AVMS networks who
increase their subscriptions. The figures for 2011 provide averages for the pre- and postdigital world; the data for January 2012 showed the groups of pay-TV, OthersCY and
Rest to reach 25-30% with MadCY getting a good share in the group OthersCY. SIGMA
remained on top of the competition in 2011, with slight lower ratings, but MEGA, owned
by the Church, run by Teletypos, the owners of MEGA Greece, was the only channel with
net increase of more than two points.
Soap operas produced locally or originating in Greece are mostly among the top 25 every
week.
94
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
6.2.3.
Press and Publishing
The main features of the press and publishing sector since 2004 are the following:
 The increasing interest of newspapers publishers for radio and the Internet and the
multiplication of magazines published or affiliated to newspapers (see above, the
introduction to this section);
 The continued expansion of specialised newspapers and magazines, along with the
shrinking of dailies;
 The multiplication of publications in languages other than Greek and English,
addressing in particular groups coming from EU countries and Russia.
The number of dailies was reduced in 2010 to five in Greek and one in English language;
daily Μάχη [Machi - Battle) turned to weekly, replacing its sibling Θάρρος [Tharros –
Courage). Other changes, in the group of weeklies, were the publication of a Sunday
Cyprus edition of Athens' Καθημερινή [Kathimerini -Daily], as of 2 November 2008 and
the acquisition of the largest English language newspaper Cyprus Weekly 15 by the
publishers of Φιλελεύθερος [Phileleftheros - Liberal), the largest Greek language daily.
Many specialised magazines are published in the Republic or have a Cyprus edition of
their publication in Greece.
No circulation audit bureau has ever operated in Cyprus, which makes difficult to
ascertain the exact circulation figures of newspapers and magazines, in particular those
of subscriptions, distributed for free or bought by air transport- or other companies. The
two main distribution agencies are Kronos and Hellenic Press Agency, affiliated with the
English language daily Cyprus Mail, the oldest of the existing newspapers. They disclose
no data to the public.
According to a readership survey covering summer 2011, 16 only 25.9% on average of the
population over 13 years old read at least one newspaper in September 2011 during
weekdays, 49.7% on Saturdays and 43.3% on Sundays. To these figures, one should
add Internet reading 17 which was 12.7% (weekdays), 6.0% (Saturdays) and 4.2%
(Sundays). Compared to September 2010, daily hard copy readership declined by three
points.
First in circulation figures and readership remains by far Phileleftheros, with 16.2%,
jumping to 35% on Saturdays and 24.2% on Sundays. It is followed by Politis and
Simerini with 6.5% and 5.3%, which increase on weekends up to 8-10.7%. Χαραυγή
[Charavgi – Dawn], the only party newspaper 18 – mouthpiece of Communist party AKEL
(32.7% in May 2011) was read by 4.4%.
6.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Network AVMS services developed after 2004 with CYTA, the public telecommunications
provider, leading the way with MyVision, renamed later CytaVision. NOVA Cyprus, along
with Multichoice were allied to Lumiere TV (LTV) offering terrestrial and satellite pay-TV
up to 30 June 2011, when their contract of cooperation came to an end.
15
16
17
18
Published every Friday, more than 15,000 copies.
Published by Gnora Communication Consultants, www.gnora.com.
All dailies provided for free a pdf copy of their hard copy edition.
Reference in the 2004 report to “many newspapers controlled by parties” is not true.
95
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 18 CY: Websites and company establishment/network operation
CytaVision (miVision)
www.cytavision.com.cy
2004
2004
Cablenet
www.cablenet.com.cy
2003
2006
Primetel
www.primetel.com.cy
2003
2006
Velister Ltd (digital platform)
www.velister.com.cy
2009
2009
Data compiled by Christophoros Christophorou (2012)
Table 19 CY: List of Cyprus media and websites
Daily newspapers
Website
Owner
Founded
Phileleftheros
www.philenews.com
Phileleleftheros Public Company
ltd
1955
Politis
www.politis-news.com
Arktinos Publishers
1999
Simerini
www.simerini.com
Dias Publishers
1976
Alithia
www.alithia.com.cy
Alfamedia Services Ltd
1952
Haravgi
www.haravgi.com.cy
Telegraphos ltd
1956
Cyprus Mail (EN)
www.cyprus-mail.com
Cyprus Mail ltd
1945
Mahi
www.maxhnews.com
Atrotos ltd
1960
Kathimerini
www.kathimerini.com.cy
Kathimerini ltd (Eidikes Ekdoseis
& Kathimerines Ekdoseis A.E.
Greece)
2008
Cyprus Weekly (EN)
www.incyprus.com.cy
Phileleftheros
ltd
1979
RIK
www.cybc.com.cy
RIK (Public Law Company)
1953
ANT1
www.ant1.com.cy
Antenna ltd
1993
Sigma
www.sigmatv.com
Dias Publishers
1995
Mega
www.megatv.com (Greece)
Mega
&
Company
TvPlus
n.a.
n.a
2006
LTV
www.ltv.com.cy
Lumiere TV Public Company
1993
Extra
www.extratv.com.cy
K.K.New Extra ltd
1994
Capital
http://www.capital-tv.com
n.a.
2001
Energy (NRG)
www.nrg.com.cy
NRG TV ltd
2011
n.a
2011
Eidikes
Ekdoseis
MusicBox Entertainment LTD
2011
Weeklies
Public
Company
Television
Music TV
MadCy
www.madtv.com.cy
Logos
Pliroforiaki
1992
Source:
http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/pio/pio.nsf/mass_media_gr/mass_media_gr?OpenDocument
, accessed 10 June 2012.
6.2.4.1.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
There are in all three network services providers, CYTA, Primetel and Cablenet.
Primetel started offering NOVA's services through its network until January 2012, when
CYTA signed an agreement for exclusive rights on NOVA's content of programmes.
96
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 20 CY: Network services providers offer the following:
Provider
Telephony
Cellular (GSM)
Internet
IPTV
CableTV
CYTA
YES
Yes
YES
CytaVision
--
Primetel
YES
Yes
YES
PrimeHome
--
Cablenet
YES
--
YES
--
CableView
Compiled from information on the Service providers' websites.
CYTA continues to dominate the telecommunications sector with 92% for PSTN analogue
telephony and 84% for broadband Internet connections. 19 It occupies also the largest
part of the IPTV sector with 88.8%, with the rest 11.2% going to Primetel. The providers'
share of 'triple service' broadband subscriptions (Internet, Telephony and IPTV-Cable
TV), in June 2011 was CYTA: 58.9%, Primetel: 16.8% and Cablenet: 24.3%. According
to the observatory of the OCECPR, three out of four new subscribers were choosing
Cablenet.
The number of households connected to broadband networks passed from 33,799 in
2005 to 147,276 in 2008 and 186,650 in 2011, which is 66.4% of the total.
6.2.5.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
In the audiovisual media services sector, the television public declined from 68.1% in
2007 to 59.7% in 2011, while the share of broadcasters with national coverage shrunk
from 83.9% in 2005 to 77.4% in 2011. This can be attributed to the development of
cable and IP TV services and the fact that some local broadcasters expanded their
coverage to national after the digital switch-over. In 2012 there were clear signs that the
overall share of those providers would reach almost 30% viewership. 20
As shown in table below, television received 74.2% of the advertising expenditure in
2011, with its share clearly up from 68,9% in 2008. The sums shown are nominative
(gross), based on the price-lists of advertising space and time in the media and
advertisements published. The global economic crisis has also hit the advertising
industry and the media, which meant a decline of expenditure/income respectively.
Television was hit much less than the printed media, which appear to have lost 13% of
their 2010 advertising income. However, in the absence of official audit bodies, one
should be cautious both with numbers provided below and the validity of price-lists as a
basis for estimating expenditure; it is clear that in times of crisis prices negotiated
between the advertising sector parties can be over-discounted.
19
20
All data in this section refer to the second quarter of 2011 and come from reports of the Office of the
Commissioner for Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation. Accessed online on 10 February 2012,
at:http://www.ocecpr.org.cy/media/.
documents/General/EC_Doc_RevisedofTelecomBulletin2Q2011Broadband_GR_PK.doc.
Data provided by AGB and report in weekly Καθημερινή, 15.01.2012.
97
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 21 CY: Distribution of advertising expenditure in the media sector
Nominative expenses of the advertising industry media
TELEVISION - PRESS – RADIO 2008 -2011
2011
TV
2010
2009
299,730,200 74.2% 305,528,955 72.6% 277,874,049
2008
70.8%
240,681,677
68.9%
Press
61,120,948
15.1%
70,205,971
16.7%
69,871,930
17.8%
68,195,095
19.5%
Radio
43,074,553
10.7%
45,159,102
10.7%
44,801,105
11.4%
40,519,887
11.6%
TOTAL (All) 403,925,701 100.00% 420,894,029 100.00% 392,547,085 100.00% 349,396,658
100.00%
Source Matrixmedia, online at www.inbusiness.com.cy (accessed 10 April 2012).
The income from advertising is not proportional, as successful broadcasters receive a
higher share compared to their audience share, while for others the situation is inverted:
their advertising income is proportionally much smaller than their audience ratings.
According to AGB-Nielsen, advertising revenue shared by the major open-to-air channels
was as follows:
Table 22 CY: Advertising income – Share of major broadcasters
Broadcaster
2011
RIK1
6.7%
RIK2
1.5%
ANT1
25.1%
Sigma
38.7%
Mega
22.7%
TVPlus
5.4%
Source: AGB/Nielsen.
6.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Overall, the regulatory framework and media landscape warrant pluralism and freedom
of expression with a plurality of media and pluralism of access within individual media.
Constitutional provisions and the laws on public and commercial AVMS, along with the
Press law offer the required guarantees. In specific sectors, an independent regulator
with extensive powers, strict control on issues of ownership and ensuring editorial
independence are the prominent features in commercial media; plurality of access is also
warranted in all AVMS. Secrecy of sources and access by journalists to sources are also
warranted in the Press law. However, there are in practice various constraints and issues
of concern.
Main issues of concern and recommendations to remedy the situation are the following:
 The constitutional powers of the Attorney General, advisor of the executive, to seize
newspapers or printed matter constitutes a threat to freedom of expression; the
powers offered to courts to intervene within 72 hours may not offer sufficient
remedy for such a censorship act. An amendment of the Constitution may be the
answer to such threat, in a way that any censorship powers need a court decision.
98
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Following the sixth amendment of the Constitution in June 2010 and practices
leading to interference with secrecy of communication and seizure of computers or
access to the content of communication by police raise concerns of abuse and
violation of fundamental rights. A law is needed that will enforce the provisions of
the Constitution in order, among other, to make it clear that, in the absence of
specific court order, the authorities can interfere only with the external
characteristics of communication and not with the content.
 With regard to ownership, there is need for establishing transparency through the
Press law for printed media; the Radio Television Authority should disclose
ownership and shareholding information for the audiovisual media; the clear need
for transparency so that every citizen is aware who owns and ultimately controls
the media, as a major requirement for evaluating information they disseminate, can
be met either by a decision by the Authority to make this kind of information public
or through a specific provision in the relevant law.
 The media landscape and the public can benefit more from the regulator's
extensive powers with substantial activity in regulatory issues which is missing and
from speeding up decision making procedures for cases of breech of the laws. This
is a matter depending solely on the Radio Television Authority's will to assume its
regulatory role.
 The composition of the governing body of the public broadcaster RIK and the
inclusion of party officials pose a real problem of authority; it is not easy for the
board of directors to prove their independence from party/political influences and
respond to the requirements of the public service broadcaster. The law must
exclude party officials from the governing body and warrant the Corporation's real
independence. Outside political interference and the lack of internal systematic
monitoring or quality control within the institution, are also issues that have to be
addressed in order to enable it to fully respond to its obligations. The failure to vote
in time and cuts in the public service broadcaster's budget by opposition parties, on
claims of not fair treatment of parties and other arguments underlines the dangers
of political interference with RIK's and media affairs. Ensuring a really independent
governing body and quality control can curtail any attempts against the
independence of the Corporation by opposition parties.
 The definition of the public service broadcaster obligations in terms of simply
programme quota must change and additional quality criteria must be established
in order to better ensure a public service remit.
On general issues, media must extent access beyond political parties and allow the
expression of a larger plurality of ideas in society ensuring in this way a broader role for
the media. This opening should extent to the choice by media of those to whom access is
offered and to media's policy to act as advocates of certain groups' opinions and ideas.
Public dialogue should go beyond positions on the Cyprus Problem, to allow discussion of
social and other issues. While the law warrants the above, the above should better be
promulgated through proactive measures than law enforcement.
Connected to the latter issue are frequent criticisms by politicians and parties and legal
measures taken against media or persons for libel and defamation; we observe an
increase of court cases in recent years, in particular by state officials and politicians.
99
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Self-regulation in the form of the Media Complaints Commission, an independent body
that acts with reference to a Code of Ethics, is a positive example. However, its
composition must include more people from the civil society, while powers for
enforcement and sanctions should be part of its arsenal. Along with the above, regular
reporting on its activities could strengthen its efficiency and authority.
There is a general need for all sides, authorities, social and political actors and the
media, for fully understanding the importance of the role of media in a democratic
society and respect for both freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Pressures
or interference with media work and lack of tolerance should stop, while on the other
hand, a systematic effort by media for training to raise the standards of awareness and
the quality of their work is urgent. 21
Opening airwaves and the media in general to more voices is also necessary, given, in
particular, the fact that civil society in Cyprus and NGOs are weak.
The courts of the Republic interpret the laws with reference to the case-law of the
European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and they eventually
remedy for gaps in the Republic's law or conflicts with the clauses of the European
Convention. However, the enjoyment of this kind of rights and freedoms must be selfevident and unhindered; no one must wait to ascertain and enjoy one's rights through
years-long procedures before the courts.
21
At the time of finalising the report (June 2012), a draft law was sent to the House of Representatives by
the government setting the conditions under which journalists should disclose their sources. This caused
an outcry and the draft bill was withdrawn.
100
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
7.
CZECH REPUBLIC
7.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
7.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The starting point is the right to freedom of expression and the right to information under
Article 17 of the Declaration of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – which is an
integral part of the Czech Constitution: “Everyone has the right to express his views in
speech, writing, printing, painting or otherwise, as well as the freedom to seek, receive
and impart information and ideas regardless of frontiers”. Specific safeguards and rights
for the media are not anchored in the Constitution.
The Czech Constitutional Court has heard a complaint from a broadcaster about a fine
imposed on it for broadcasting a “Big Brother”-type reality show. The Broadcasting
Council had decided that the broadcaster should pay a fine of CZK 200,000 for violating
Article 32 of Law no. 231/2001, which prohibits broadcasters from broadcasting TV
programmes that endanger the physical, spiritual or moral development of children,
between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Some parts of the programme had contained scenes that
harmed human dignity and interpersonal relations, as well as vulgar and bad language.
After appeals against the Broadcasting Council’s decision had been rejected by the
Prague Municipal Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, the broadcaster lodged an
appeal with the Constitutional Court because it thought the decisions of the Broadcasting
Council and the courts had infringed its fundamental rights. The Constitutional Court
agreed with the administrative courts’ interpretation of the law. It also explained that the
appellant had not been prosecuted for broadcasting the show, but because of the timing
of the broadcast. The fact that the appellant disagreed with the courts’ conclusions did
not mean that the complaint about infringement of the Constitution was well-founded
and, in any case, did not represent a violation of its fundamental rights. Since the
decisions of the courts could not be described as arbitrary, they did not infringe the
appellant’s fundamental rights. The Constitutional Court therefore rejected the complaint.
On 25 November 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic ruled on a case
concerning freedom of expression in caricatures and noted that the freedom of
expression was not limitless and that drawings showing naked politicians carrying out sex
acts exceeded the admissible limit of satire and exaggeration. This decision represented
victory for a former Czech minister in a legal dispute with the Czech magazine Reflex.
The magazine’s publisher, Ringier, therefore lost its appeal to the Constitutional Court, in
which it had claimed that it had suffered damage as a result of the courts’ order that it
should apologise for the aforementioned caricatures. It had argued that its freedom of
expression and artistic freedom had been violated. The dispute over the caricatures
lasted nine years. In May 2001, a caricature had been published in the satirical comic
strip Green Raoul, showing the then minister naked, engaging in sex acts with
colleagues. The minister sued the magazine for damaging his reputation as a citizen and
a minister and exceeding the limits of freedom of speech. The municipal court in Prague,
the appeal court and the Supreme Court all decided that the magazine’s publisher should
apologise. They rejected the defence’s argument that political satire and exaggeration of
this kind were acceptable. The Supreme Court in Prague ruled that the images bordered
on pornography and seriously infringed the common rules of decency. The Senate of the
Constitutional Court upheld the courts’ arguments and rejected the magazine publisher’s
101
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
claims. The judges confirmed that, although politicians had to endure a high level of
criticism, freedom of expression was not totally limitless. Even caricatures, which could
go further than other works, had to respect certain boundaries in relation to the freedom
of expression.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Czech Constitution does not hold any provisions relating to the status, remit and/or
powers to be attributed to the supervisory authorities in the broadcasting and electronic
communications sectors.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
Aspects of “universal service” in terms of either content to be offered by the/specific
media or with regard to technical coverage and reachability of networks and services
necessary for accessing information (via the media) are not dealt with by the Czech
Constitution. Neither have the Constitutional Court or other jurisdictions adjudicated on
this subject matter, e.g. in view of, and by interpreting, Art. 17 of the Declaration of
Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
7.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
The competencies of the two main regulators of the broadcasting market, the Council for
Radio
and
Television
Broadcasting
(hereinafter:
Council)
and
the
Czech
1
Telecommunication Office (CTO), are enshrined in the Broadcasting Act and the
Electronic Communications Act. 2 The former regulates broadcast content and the latter
deals mainly with managing the frequency spectrum. The Council is an administrative
office, which performs state administration of radio and television broadcasting,
retransmission and audiovisual media services on demand. It oversees the maintenance
and development of a plurality of programming and information on radio and television
broadcasting and retransmission, ensures the independence of its content, and performs
other tasks stipulated by law and special regulations. The Council grants a license to
operate radio and television broadcasts, performs registration of retransmission of radio
and television broadcasts and holds files of operators of audiovisual media services on
demand. It also monitors the content of these services and gives the penalties for
breaking the law. The Council consists of 13 members, appointed and dismissed by the
Prime Minister on a proposal from the Chamber of Deputies for a term of 6 years. The
tasks associated with professional technical support activities are provided by the Office
of the Council.
The CTO performs the regulation of electronic communications (infrastructure). The
Authority is the administrator of the frequency spectrum. It determines the allocation of
frequencies to operators of electronic communications in the field of radio and television
broadcasting. It collaborates with the Council in the allocation of frequencies to operators
of radio and television broadcasting and maintains a database of these frequencies and
passes them to the Council.
1
2
Act No. 231/2001 on Radio and Television Broadcasting Operation and on amending other laws, Sbírka
zákonů, 4 June 2001, further amended inter alia by Acts No. 274/2003, 341/2004,501/2004, 626/2004,
82/2005, 127/2005, 348/2005, 235/2006, 160/2007, 296/2007, 304/2007, 47/2010.
Act No. 127/2005 on Electronic Communications, Sbírka zákonů, 22 February 2005.
102
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The amendments by Acts No. 235/2006 Coll and No. 304/2007 Coll. to the Broadcasting
Act brought major changes in the area of digital licensing, stripping the Council of
decision-making power. According to the new provisions, the licensing tender and
application procedures administered by the Council were dropped and replaced by a short
application procedure almost identical with the application for the registration of cable
and satellite broadcasters. Any party interested in airing digitally, whether via cable,
satellite or terrestrially, will only be required to apply for a licence from the regulator.
The Council will no longer organise contests for licences, instead receiving individual
applications with information about the applicant’s financial, organisational and technical
readiness to start broadcasting, and an agreement with a cable or satellite provider to
host its programme. The Council is obliged to interview the applicant within 30 days and
can reject the application only if he or she is late in paying state taxes, has been
imprisoned, or has already had a licence withdrawn for violating legal provisions on
programming. In other words, the Council will have to grant licences to any party with
the necessary financing and an agreement with a network operator. The amended
legislation is a breakthrough that will liberalise the TV market in an unprecedented way
and strengthen pluralism in broadcasting. The legislation marked the end of the “beauty
contest era” in broadcasting, when the Council decided by itself who would be able to
broadcast and who would not. The terrestrial frequency spectrum would continue to be
limited, but there will be much more space on it. In total, the country will have up to
seven nation-wide digital multiplexes able to host 70 individual channels. As now on
cable and satellite, there will be virtually no limit to the number of programmes. On the
other hand, the State will be able to withdraw licences in cases of breaches of legislation.
There have been no changes in the Council’s monitoring of compliance with licence
conditions.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
An application for a license to broadcast must include information regarding the
ownership structure of the applicant. If such a legal person is a joint-stock company, a
precondition for obtaining a licence is that its shares are registered shares. Without the
consent of the Council it is not possible to change the amount of capital, the manner of
distribution of voting rights, the contribution of individual members (including the content
specifications and financial evaluation of in-kind contributions), and a list of partners or
shareholders. The Broadcasting Act contains provisions related to restrictions on media
concentration; restrictions on the number of licenses of one operator and both the
analogue and the digital broadcasting at national and local and regional level. Mergers
and the mutual influence of operators of radio and television broadcasts are limited. The
major ownership disputes have been settled and the ownership structures in
broadcasting media are now more transparent than they were before. The bulk of the
capital in the media, including broadcasting, is foreign. The 2006 amendments to the
Broadcasting Act introduced provisions preventing cross-ownership between the operator
of an electronic communications network (such as digital multiplexes or cable TV) and
the holder of a broadcasting licence. More changes have been made by the Law No.
196/2009 Coll. These provisions were added to the Article 21 of the Broadcasting Law
No. 231/2001 Coll.:
“(7) A licensed television broadcaster, which is a legal person, or a member within such
a legal person, may transfer to third parties a share in the licensed television
broadcaster company with prior consent of the Council. The consent may only be
withheld if the plurality of information under Articles 55 and 56 would be limited.
103
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The persons who were members in the legal person as of the date of issuance of
the decision to grant the licence shall remain holders of at least 66% of the stock or
66% of the voting rights for the period of 5 years from the date on which the
licence was granted.
(8)
With a prior consent of the Council, a legal person or a natural person who is a
member of more than one legal person – licensed broadcaster – with a 100%
ownership interest may transfer these legal persons, or some of them, into a single
successor company by merger or amalgamation, the successor company becoming
either a public limited company or a limited liability company.
(9)
A natural person who is a licensed broadcaster or a rebroadcaster may request that
the licence or registration, which was awarded to it, be transferred to a legal
person. The Council will grant the request only in the case that the natural person
has a 100% ownership interest in such a legal person.
(10) With a prior consent of the Council, a licensed
programme of another licensed broadcaster,
programme, provided that this does not lead
specification. A licensed broadcaster may
programme parts of a statutory broadcaster.”
radio broadcaster may retransmit the
including the identification of such a
to a change in the basic programme
not retransmit the programme or
In pursuance of the latest changes of legislation, it is worth to be mentioned that the
Broadcasting Council approved the merger of several radio stations so that their number
decreased.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
Czech Television (ČT) and Czech Radio (ČRo) are operators of public service television
and radio broadcasts. Czech Television provides a public service by creating and
distributing television programmes or other multimedia content and services throughout
the Czech Republic. Czech Radio is tasked with the production and broadcasting of radio
programmes. ČT and ČRo were founded by separate laws that establish their personality
and independence of the state. These laws defined the tasks of public services and the
organization of these institutions.
The head of each of the two institutions is the General Director, who is elected by the
Council of ČT and by the Council of ČRo. The respective councils are elected by the
Chamber of Deputies on a proposal from interest groups. The council is the authority
which should secure the public exercises its right to control ČT and ČRo. They approve
and control the budgets, oversee the fulfilment of the public service, and approve
development plans.
According to the Law on the Czech TV (Nr. 483/1991 Coll), the remit is defined more
precisely in Article 2 as follows:(1) Czech Television shall provide public service by
creating and distributing television programmes and prospectively also other multimedia
content and supplemental services in the entire territory of the Czech Republic
(hereinafter referred to as “public service in the television broadcasting area”).
(2)
a)
The main tasks of public service in the television broadcasting area include, without
being limited to:
provision of objective, verified and generally balanced and
information as may be needed for opinions to be freely formed,
104
comprehensive
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
b)
contributing to legal awareness among the citizens of the Czech Republic,
c)
creating and disseminating programmes and providing a well-balanced offer of
programme units for all groups of population with respect to the freedom of their
faith and conviction, culture, ethnic or national origin, national identity, social origin,
age or gender so that the programme units reflect the diversity of opinions and
political, religious and philosophical orientations and artistic trends, with a view to
promoting mutual understanding and tolerance and supporting coherence of the
plurality society.
Both broadcasters are financed primarily from radio and television fees paid by holders of
radio and television receivers. Furthermore, both institutions broadcast a limited range of
business communications and provide some additional business services. ČT also
generates income from advertising and sponsorship, selling services and rights,
teleshopping and programme production. Advertising on public television programmes
remained only on ČT2 and ČT4. The proceeds from advertising on ČT2 are transferred to
the State Fund of Culture, the means generated by advertisements broadcast on
television are used by ČT4 to produce and broadcast programmes with sports themes. A
special provision in the Electronic Communications Act tasked ČT to lead the process of
digitisation, reserving Multiplex A for its exclusive use. ČT launched digital terrestrial
broadcasting on Multiplex A, known also as the Public Service Multiplex, in all regions of
the country. The latest amendments to the Czech Television Act entitled the broadcaster
to operate at least two more TV channels on top of its two nationwide analogue channels,
ČT1 and ČT2. ČT launched an all-news channel, ČT24, which airs digitally over terrestrial
networks and via satellite, cable and internet. Then it launched ČT4 Sport, which is aired
digitally, and via satellite and cable.
ČT was allowed to continue to broadcast commercials during the digital transition, in
order to preserve some balance on the TV market. The extra income covered the
development of terrestrial digital television broadcasting, digitisation of the station’s
archives and the development of Czech cinematography. The public service broadcaster
ČT has distinguished itself more clearly as an alternative to commercial TV. It has
continued to make a difference compared with its commercial peers, which are geared
mostly to providing low-brow entertainment and blockbusters. There have been no major
changes in ČT’s output over recent years. It has continued its strategy of airing more
elitist and cultural programming on its second channel, which targets a smaller, more
high-brow audience. However, the first channel, which attracts a much bigger audience,
also broadcasts a significant amount of public service programming. Drama and news
occupy the largest proportion of the schedule, followed by documentaries, reportage and
current affairs. The station does not specify in its reports the amount of programming
devoted to minorities. The specific obligations on public service broadcasters, as defined
mainly in the Czech Television Act and in the Czech Radio Act, have not changed over the
past years. Commercial broadcasters continue to have no specific public service
obligations imposed by legislation, such as requirements to air regional or minority
programming. The amendments to the Czech Television Act did not change the
governance of Czech public service broadcasting. MPs still control the appointment of
Council members. Politicians still believe that Council membership should reflect the
distribution of power in Parliament.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Broadcasting Council does not control the fulfilling of the public service obligations,
so that there is no control mechanism.
105
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Protection of the journalistic information source and content is regulated by the
Broadcasting Act and by the Press Act 3:
Any natural person or legal person who/which took part in obtaining or processing the
information made public or to be made public in radio or television broadcasting or by the
press shall have the right to deny disclosure of the origin of such information or the
content thereof to the court or any other State authority or public administration
authority. Any natural person or legal person who/which took part in obtaining or
processing the information made public or to be made public in radio or television
broadcasting shall have the right to deny submission or delivery, to a court or a State
authority or public administration authority, of any items from which the origin or content
of such information might be derived. The obligations laid down in a special legal
regulation and requiring avoidance of any favouritism for offenders and to prevent or
report criminal offence shall remain unaffected by the rights referred to above, and so
shall remain, in relation to such obligations laid down in specific legislation, any
obligations as may be prescribed in the penal proceedings.
By its decision of 30 October 2003, the High Court of Prague restricted the possibility of
broadcasting a court hearing live. The decision was taken on the occasion of an appeal by
five persons accused for the preparation of murdering a journalist who published several
articles on a corruption case affecting the ministerial level. In the Czech Republic, live
coverage or recordings by the media in courtrooms are allowed in principle. The coverage
must be expressly permitted by the competent judicial authorities. Such reporting should
be authorised only where it does not involve a serious risk of undue influence on victims,
witnesses, parties to criminal proceedings or the judges. In the relevant case, a TVstudio was set up in the court building, from where lawyers and experts could comment
on the proceedings. Inside the courtroom three cameras were installed and the fourth
was placed in the entrance hall. Czech TV planned to invite guests into the studio to
comment on the circumstances of the case and the personality of the defendants. The
main accused approved the live reporting, but did not approve the commentary on the
procedure. At the very beginning of the hearing, the magistrate of the Court ruled that
the live transmission should be allowed. However, the solicitors of two other defendants
did not approve the live transmission of the trial and asked that the question of
broadcasting should be decided by the whole court and not by a magistrate only. The
President of the Court pronounced the Court's decision that the right to a fair trial was in this case - more important than the public's right to information. In the context of
criminal proceedings, particularly those involving juries or lay judges, judicial authorities
and police services should refrain from publicly providing information that involves a risk
of substantial prejudice to the fairness of the proceedings. Respect for the principle of
presumption of innocence is an integral part of the right to a fair trial. Accordingly,
opinions and information relating to ongoing criminal proceedings should only be
communicated or disseminated through the media where this does not prejudice the
presumption of innocence of the suspect or accused. Where the defendants are able to
show that the provision of information is highly likely to result, or has resulted, in a
breach of the right to a fair trial, they have an effective legal remedy. The trial continued
without live transmission. At the end, Czech TV was allowed to broadcast live only the
public pronouncement of the judgment.
3
Tiskový zákon (Press Law) Nr. 46/2000 Coll.
106
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Specific positive content obligations
According to the Law No. 483/1991 Coll. (Law on the Czech TV), some specific content
obligations are contained in Article 2 as follows:
“d) developing the cultural identity among the citizens of the Czech Republic, including
members of national or ethnic minorities,
e)
producing and broadcasting news and political/public programme units,
documentaries, art, drama, sports, entertainment and educational programming, and
programmes for minors.”
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
Some quality books and magazines are subsidised.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
The Broadcasting Law states in Art. 48 as follows:
“(1) Broadcasters are not allowed to broadcast:
(e)
political parties’ and movements’ commercial communications and those of
independent candidates standing for the posts of deputies, senators or members of
a municipal or local council or council of a higher-level self-government unit, unless
otherwise provided in specific legislation,”
For elections to the Chamber of Deputies the political advertising is allowed during the
period beginning 16 days and ending 48 hours before the election day. The candidates or
the political parties, political movements and coalitions whose candidate list has been
registered in the Czech Radio earmarked a total of 14 hours and also the Czech
Television, a total of 14 hours, within their broadcast areas provided free airtime, divided
equally to the candidate, the political parties, political movements and/or coalitions . The
broadcasting time will be determined by lot. The candidates, the political parties, the
political movements and coalitions have each full responsibility for the content of the
political messages transmitted.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
No changes in this sector worth to be mentioned since our last country report in 2004.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Broadcasting Act provides in its Article 5:
“The Broadcasting Council shall:
x) cooperate within the range of its competence with Czech legal persons whose activities
include self-regulation in any of the fields to which this Act or specific legislation apply,
such self-regulation involving active participation of broadcasters, rebroadcasters or
on-demand audiovisual media service providers (hereinafter referred to as “selfregulatory bodies”), provided that such cooperation is requested in writing by such a
self-regulatory body, especially in developing effective self-regulatory systems and in
implementing measures supporting media literacy; publish a list of the cooperating
107
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
self-regulatory bodies (hereinafter referred to as “list of self-regulatory bodies”), using
methods that facilitate remote access, etc.”
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
Article 4 of the Law on Czech TV recognises the special situation of the public service
broadcaster in respect of access to frequencies:
“(2) The State body responsible for the administration of the frequency spectrum on the
basis of a specific legal regulation shall co-operate with the Council for Radio and
Television Broadcasting to reserve for Czech Television the radio frequencies that
enable the operation of broadcasting within the range specified in Articles 3(1)(a)
and 3(1)(b).”
Besides, the regulation governing the granting of rights of use of frequencies reserved for
broadcasting services are laid out in licensing chapter.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
Access to distribution services (radio, television, press) is generally free. For digital TV
broadcasting there are sufficient capacities and therefore the procedure for obtaining a
licence is of a merely formal nature. Only radio broadcasting in FM radio frequency bands
remains submitted to a licence procedure with contest.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
The Council determines programmes and the services directly related thereto to be
mandatory distributed in the public interest over electronic communications networks for
radio and television broadcasting (“must-carry obligations”), review whether the
mandatory distribution of such programmes is still necessary and submit to the CTO
binding opinions in respect of the imposition or lifting of such mandatory distribution
under specific legislation. When assessing whether there is public interest or whether
public interest continues, the Council must in particular take into account the proportion
of public interest programme units and own-produced programme units, the multimodal
access to programme units that are broadcast for the hard of hearing and the visually
impaired (sound descriptions, Czech sign language, subtitles with indication of the nonverbal part of the story, easy navigation) and the suitability of the broadcasters’
programme for immediate notification.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
All the information regarding the owners of the broadcasters and their shares can be
found in the Commercial register.
- Accountability of public service media
The Television (ČT) Council and the Radio (ČRo) Council are responsible to submit their
annual activity reports to the Chamber of Deputies.
108
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Freedom of information laws
The Law Nr. 106/1999 Coll., on Free Access to Information regulates the conditions of
free access to information and provides the basic conditions of their provision. Obligation
to provide information has all the scope of the public authorities, regional authorities and
public institutions managing public funds. The information can be asked for by any
natural or legal person. The Act provides, inter alia, the application requirements, the
provision of information, limits to the right to information, the procedure for submitting
and processing of written requests, appeals, payment of costs.
In a decision of 10 July 2006 on an application’s admissibility, the European Court of
Human Rights (ECtHR) has, for the first time, applied Article 10 of the Convention in a
case where a request for access to administrative documents was refused by the
authorities. The case concerns a refusal to grant an ecological NGO access to documents
and plans regarding a nuclear power station in Temelin, Czech Republic. Although the
Court is of the opinion that there has not been a breach of Article 10, it explicitly
recognised that the refusal by the Czech authorities is to be considered as an
interference with the right to receive information as guaranteed by Article 10 of the
Convention. Hence, the refusal must meet the conditions set out in Article 10 para. 2. In
the case of Matky v. Czech Republic, the Court refers to its traditional case law,
emphasising that the freedom to receive information “aims largely at forbidding a State
to prevent a person from receiving information which others would like to have or can
consent to provide”. The Court is also of the opinion that it is difficult to derive from
Article 10 ECHR a general right to have access to administrative documents. The Court,
however, recognises that the refusal to grant access to administrative documents, in
casu relating to a nuclear power station, is to be considered as an interference in the
applicant’s right to receive information. Because the Czech authorities have reasoned in a
pertinent and sufficient manner the refusal to grant access to the requested documents,
the Court is of the opinion that there has been no breach of Article 10 para. 2 of the
Convention in this case. The refusal was justified in the interest of protecting the rights of
others (industrial secrets), national security (risk of terrorist attacks) and public health.
The Court also emphasised that the request to have access to essentially technical
information about the nuclear power station did not reflect a matter of public interest.
For these reasons, it was obvious that there had not been an infringement of Article 10
ECHR, thus, the Court declared the application inadmissible.
The Ombudsman of the Czech Republic had asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the
compatibility with the Constitution of the Decree implementing the Secrecy Act. It was
claimed that the Decree would not be consistent with the constitutional law principles of
legal certainty and the predictability of state action. The protection of classified
information is organised on two levels in the Czech Republic: general regulations are set
out in the Secrecy Act, which defines matters that should be kept secret as “matters
which, if known to the public, could jeopardise the interests of the Czech Republic or
interests which the Czech Republic is obliged to protect”. In order to implement the Act,
the government has to issue a Decree listing matters that must be kept secret. A list of
18 such matters was appended to the Decree that was subsequently issued. Of these, 17
refer to actual files, while the final one covers “sensitive economic and security
information linked to international relations”. In the Ombudsman's view, such a general
provision is open to abuse and arbitrariness on the part of the authorities, particularly in
relation to the transmission of information to the media. The list of secret matters should
be worded in precise terms. However, the Constitutional Court dismissed the
Ombudsman's application on the grounds that if all secret matters had to be worded in
109
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
precise terms, the objectives of the Act could not be met. 4 Then, secret information
might instead have to be revealed. Predictability and legal certainty, however, should not
be considered absolute objectives. The Constitution also protects the legitimate interests
of the Czech Republic, and the legislator had to take all of these elements into account.
Furthermore, citizens already had sufficient legal protection against any abuse and
arbitrariness in the way these provisions were applied.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
There are no obstacles to the access to products and services.
7.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
7.2.1.
Radio
Table 23 CZ: Largest radio channels, weekly rating (WR) and daily rating (DR)
Programme
Broadcaster
WR
2011
DR
Radio Impuls
Lagardere
2059
976
Evropa 2
Lagardere
1837
872
Frekvence 1
Lagardere
1813
897
Radio Blaník
MMS
1252
667
ČRo 1
Public CRo
1243
692
http://www.radiotv.cz/poslechovost/
4
Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, 23 February 2004, No. Pl. ÚS 31/03.
110
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 24 CZ: Terrestrial broadcasters
2005
2007
70
79
1
1
1
1
69
78
7
7
83
94
15
15
68
79
16
16
4
4
2
2
67
78
11
11
56
67
1
1
1
1
2008
76
1
1
75
7
99
15
84
16
4
12
83
11
72
1
1
2009
2010
Indicator
78
57
Radio broadcasting operators
1
1
By law (public)
1
1
With nationwide coverage
77
6
7
7
With nationwide coverage
98
104
Radio stations
15
15
Public
83
89
Private
16
16
With nationwide coverage
4
4
Public
12
2
Private
82
88
Without nationwide coverage
11
11
Public
71
77
Private
1
1
Radio stations having other
target audience than Czech
nationals
1
1
Public
Based on licence
Source: Czech Statistical Office
All the broadcasters are operating terrestrially, some of them on the internet, or on cable
too. Satellite broadcasting is an exemption. Terrestrial broadcasting is most important.
111
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
7.2.2.
Television
Table 25 CZ: Audience Share of TV (2010) %
Station
%
TV Nova
32.9
CT 1
17.3
Prima TV
1
6.7
CT 2
5.7
CT 24
3.4
Nova Cinema
3.2
Prima Cool
2.4
Source: ATO - Association of TV Organizations
7.2.2.1.
Press and Publishing
Table 26 CZ: Daily press
Title
No. of readers
No. of copies sold
1 404 000
346 962
Mladá fronta DNES
791 000
221 223
Právo
415 000
121 014
Aha!
259 000
88 214
Sport
251 000
50 929
Lidové noviny
219 000
42 974
Hospodářské noviny
196 000
41 511
Blesk
http://www.reklamavnovinach.cz/naklady_deniku
Blesk and Aha! are tabloids. There are slowly descendent trends in number of readers
and sold copies.
7.2.3.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Table 27 CZ: Internet population
Size of the internet population in the ČR
6 291 356
All visitors
7 999 529
visitors from the ČR
6 146 655
Number of visits
8 046 057 973
Number of visits from the ČR
7 530 179 597
http://www.netmonitor.cz/sites/default/files/vvnetmon/2011_12_netmonitor_offline_rep
ort.xls
112
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 28 CZ: Raking of the websites
Portal
Number of visitors December 2011
Seznam.CZ
5 394 894
Centrum.cz
1 223 434
Idnes.cz
1 051 563
News
Novinky.cz
3 494 457
Idnes.cz
1 498 734
Centrum.cz
1 115 583
TV
Stream.cz
2 749 965
Ceskatelevize.cz
1 437 435
Nova.cz
847 386
Iprima.cz
795 231
This is from the website of the Association for Internet Publicity, which contains
information about Internet attendance.
7.2.4.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
In the Czech Republic there are about 100 cable broadcasting operators with more than
100 participants. Most of them are small enterprises broadcasting in a small city. The
greatest players are UPC Czech Republic, Karneval, T- Mobile, Telephonica O2, Nej TV,
a.s..
7.2.5.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
The advertising industry has desperately needed more competition for years. The arrival
of digitisation has shaken the dominant position enjoyed for years by TV Nova, which has
grown used to imposing its own rules and tariffs on advertisers. MPs decided to help
commercial broadcasters by reducing advertising on ČT and increasing the licence fee.
High demand for advertising slots has increased the price of advertising. This trend has
been exacerbated by the overall fall in viewing time, which observers trace to a complex
of reasons, including the lifestyle changes due to economic growth. At the same time,
Czechs are dissatisfied with the limited TV offer, which also explains the scarcity of
advertising space. The most attractive advertising slots, in prime time, are sold far in
advance. The situation is worsened by the harsh limits on advertising on ČT and the low
penetration of satellite and cable TV. Eager for a decrease in prices and to reach younger
audiences, advertisers are increasingly drawn to other forms of communications and
media such as the internet. The entrance of the new digital players is not expected to
dent the pre-eminence of TV Nova and Prima TV in the short term. However, as the
digital newcomers’ footprint increases over the coming years, they are naturally expected
to break the current quasi-monopoly in commercial.
113
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 29 CZ: Advertising revenues in Czech Crowns (26 CZK = 1 Euro)
January till November 2010
January till November 2011
Television
23,149,134.692
26,325,516.148
Press
19,904,502.503
17,884,428.640
885,042.347
3,718,785.699
Outdoor
2,562,973.515
2,933,055.362
Radio
1,189,068.208
1,043,315.816
Shops
236,114.646
211,987.588
Cinema
207,492.102
155,156.800
Internet (display)
Source: Czech Statistical Office
7.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
After a decade of legal wrangling, digitisation is finally finished. The positive side of the
delays was that the unsuccessful applicants for digital licences, frustrated advertisers and
broadcast media professionals, including journalists, instigated a fairly productive debate
on digitisation, which reached the general public through the media themselves, including
a number of news servers specialising in digitisation and new technologies. These heated
discussions also led to legal changes that contributed to unblocking the digitisation
process and opening the market to new players. More digital channels appeared during
digital switchover in between 2008 and 2012.
The Government and Parliament should push forward legislative changes to increase the
independence, sanctioning power and effectiveness of the Council turning it into a
regulator that would be able to monitor the rapid changes in the broadcasting markets.
The Council should, for example, be entitled to adopt by-laws for the sector. The
Government and Parliament should ensure that the newly adopted, liberal licensing
system will not endanger diversity and standards in the broadcasting markets. Yet, with
a new procedure that makes licensing appear more like a mere formality, the Czech
Republic has one of the most liberal licensing systems in Europe. It has yet to be seen
how this will shape the media market and whether this system will bring more diversity.
A lot of the regulation has been left to the market. The newly-adopted licensing system
resembles the licensing of satellite and cable broadcasting. The change is likely to
intensify competition in the broadcast market, which is something that advertisers have
wanted to see happen for a long time.
The Government and Parliament should adopt legislative changes to guarantee the
independence of the public service broadcaster. The Government should initiate changes
in legislation to increase the TV and radio licence fee regularly and in line with the rate of
inflation or the retail price index.
114
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
8.
DENMARK
8.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
8.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The freedom of speech provision in section 77 of the Constitution 1 goes as follows: ‘Any
person shall be entitled to publish his thoughts in printing, in writing, and in speech,
provided that he may be held liable in a court of justice. Censorship and other preventive
measures shall never again be introduced.’ The provision has been in force since the first
Constitution of 5 June 1849, except that the word ‘in writing, and in speech’ was added
in 1953 (as a minor part of a larger change).
The second subsection clearly prohibits censorship. Thus, legislation or other
arrangement requiring approval before publication of expressions would clearly be
unconstitutional. However, the ban on ‘preventive measures' has not precluded
preliminary measures such as interim injunctions or even seizures of pamphlets etc. by
the police. 2 The first subsection makes it clear that any sanction towards unlawful
expressions must be decided by the courts, i.e., the judiciary, and not the executive or
the legislature for that matter.
For many years a distinction between ‘formal’ and ‘substantive’ freedom of speech
prevailed. Formal freedom relates to formalities, such as prior acceptance, and
substantive freedom relates to the content of the expressions. Section 77 fully protects
the formal aspect, prohibiting prior procedures, but not the substantial aspect, leaving it
for the legislature to decide subsequent sanctions for expressions. Thus, in principle any
kind of expression can be sanctioned subsequently according to a parliamentary act. It is
solely a political decision, not a legal decision. As a consequence, section 77 cannot play
any part in e.g. libel, slander and privacy cases, which for many years were solved solely
with reference to the statutes and their interpretation, not to the constitutional protection
of freedom of speech.
The distinction between formal and substantive freedom of speech was generally
accepted until the mid-1970s, where the courts (and the Parliamentary Ombudsman)
started to include freedom of expression considerations when dealing with cases
involving debate of public issues, not merely looking narrowly at the statute in question.
Contemporary case law indicates firstly that section 77 of the Constitution (still) does not
play any direct part in such cases (as the provision has never been explicitly mentioned),
and secondly that the courts do take freedom of speech aspects into consideration when
interpreting the statutes and deciding concrete cases. 3
From around 1990 the courts start to take judgments from the ECtHR into consideration.
This is before the ECHR was incorporated into Danish statutory law (which happened in
1992 4), but after the first conviction of Denmark before the ECtHR (Hauschildt v.
Denmark, 24 May 1989.). From this time on it has been impossible to isolate European
human rights from Danish national law, and section 77 of the Constitution still plays no
1
2
3
4
Act No 169/1953.
U 1949.922 H.
See inter alia U 77.872 V, U 80.1037 H and U 87.726 H.
Cf. Consolidated Act 750/1998 with later amendments.
115
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
part in the protection of freedom of speech, except for the works written by constitutional
scholars.
There are no provisions in the Constitution relating directly to broadcasting issues or
protection of the press or the media at large.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
There are no constitutional provisions relating to access to information from the
executive.
8.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
With regard to broadcasting, section 1 of the Broadcasting Act 5 provides the public
service 6 undertakings Denmark’s Radio (DR), the regional TV2 stations and the
nationwide TV2 with a statutory right to provide programme services. An administrative
license is thus unnecessary. Provision of programme services for other enterprises than
the public service undertakings requires either a permission from or registration with the
Radio and Television Board 7.
The statutory right applies only to the public service activities. Programme services which
fall outside of the public service activities require a permission or registration. A
permission is only required if the programme services require access to scarce spectrum
resources. Where permissions are required they are issued subject to a public tender. In
other cases only a registration is required. Hence, providers of e.g. cable or satellite radio
and TV as well as online services need only to be registered.
No notification requirements for print publications exist.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
There is no general regulation on media ownership under Danish law. Hence, no general
ownership restrictions exist with respect to changes in ownership, neither within a
specific media sector (television, radio, print, Internet, etc.) nor between different media
sectors (cross ownership). There are no restrictions in foreign undertakings ownership in
Danish media undertakings either.
This means that changes in the ownership of media undertakings are in general only
subject to the general merger control rules in section 12 of the Danish Competition Act. 8
Pursuant hereto the merger control rules apply to mergers where i) the aggregate annual
turnover in Denmark of all undertakings involved is more than DKK 900 million and the
aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of each of at least two of the undertakings
concerned is more than DKK 100 million; or ii) the aggregate annual turnover in
Denmark of at least one of the undertakings involved is more than DKK 3.8 billion and
5
6
7
8
Consolidated Act No 988/2011.
The Broadcasting Act section 10 stipulates that the public service institutions in their programme planning
shall aim at ‘quality, versatility and diversity’.
Ibid, section 45.
Consolidated Act No 972/2010.
116
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
the aggregate annual world-wide turnover of at least one of the other undertakings
concerned is more than DKK 3.8 billion.
Mergers covered by the threshold rules must be notified to the Competition Council
before the merger can be carried out. If the merger is assessed to create or strengthen a
dominant position as a result of which effective competition would be significantly
impeded, the Council can prohibit the merger. If the Council approves a merger, the
Council may attach conditions and obligations to the approval.
The merger control rules, however, are primarily concerned with a transaction's effect on
competition in the relevant market, not concerns regarding media pluralism or other
media political or societal considerations.
The absence of general media ownership rules – and the reliance on general competition
law – does not mean that considerations regarding media pluralism do not exist under
Danish law. Several provisions scattered around in various acts and other regulatory
measures intend to safeguard media pluralism. Considerations regarding media pluralism
follow inter alia from the Act on Radio Frequencies 9 section 14(2), according to which the
IT and Telecoms Agency, when issuing a frequency license, can impose conditions which
restrict the supply of certain services if such restrictions are found to be necessary in
fulfilling a common aim, including the promotion of media pluralism.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The public service institutions’ (DR, TV2/Denmark and the regional TV2 companies)
organisation, funding and tasks are regulated in the Broadcasting Act. Their obligations
apply to both activities on radio and TV and online media. DR and the regional TV2
companies are financed via the public service license. TV2/Denmark is financed via
advertisements and subscription fees. In general, the public service media are able to
fulfill their tasks and perform well. The Radio and Television Board (an independent
authority under the Ministry of Culture) oversees that the public service media fulfill their
tasks.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
See above regarding the Competition Council and the Radio and Television Board.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Limitations in freedom of speech are largely regulated by criminal law. The Penal Code 10
has provisions dealing with e.g. intrusion of privacy, dissemination of private information,
defamation, libel, hate speech and blasphemy. These provisions also apply to the media.
However, when dealing with cases involving the media the courts take into consideration
the “information aspect” and weigh the opposing interests, on the one hand the interest
to society of the information disseminated to the public, and on the other hand the public
interest behind the provision limiting the freedom of information in the specific case.
Moreover, the circle of persons who can be held liable when a media is violating the
provisions of the Penal Code is regulated under the Media Liability Act.
9
10
Act No 475/2009.
Consolidated Act No 1062/2011.
117
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Journalists who work for a media covered by the Media Liability Act are entitled to protect
their sources by exceptions to the duty of giving evidence in court, cf. the Administration
of Justice Act 11 section 172, and protection against seizure, search and edition (the
obligation to hand over documents to the court), cf. the Administration of Justice Act
sections 804 and 807. 12 The protection also includes due considerations as to the
importance of the protection of sources, not primarily as a privilege for journalists, but as
a prerequisite for a free flow of information.
The Media Liability Act 13 applies to three groups, cf. section 1: (1) domestic periodicals;
(2) DR and TV 2 and other stations with sending permissions (either authorization or
registration); and (3) any other printed or electronic material (including online services)
with news reporting characteristics. In order to be covered by the Media Liability Act, the
last group must report itself to the Press Council, cf. section 8.
The Media Liability Act instigates a very special liability regime in order to protect the
free flow of information. Roughly, the main idea is that there are two principal actors, the
wrongdoer, i.e., the one who has actually made a racist remark or written a defaming
statement, and the editor who may have done nothing except being the editor. As a
point of departure, nobody else can be held liable, even though they have participated
one way or the other. Thus, the speaker who reads out an unlawful statement, the
newspaper vendors and the signal carriers are not liable even though they may have
contributed to the unlawful act by disseminating unlawful expressions. Explicitly
publishers or other owners of media are (with a few exceptions) not liable for the content
of the media. Generally, the editor is liable for any anonymous content; i.e., not only
anonymous articles or letters to the editor (which in practice are never anonymous), but
also headlines etc.
Being included in the Media Liability Act is not only relevant for liability issues, but for a
range of other questions:
The Press Council (see further below, ‘codes of conduct’), which gives opinions in relation
to ethics of journalism, has only authority to deal with media under the Act. Media that
are not covered do not have to bother with the Press Council – but may have to face
court proceedings as the alternative.
There is a special right for reply under the Media Liability Act under sections 36 to 40.
Only media under the Act have this obligation.
The rules in the Administration of Justice Act regarding protection of sources, restrictions
in search, seizure and obligations to produce documents etc. in court are all connected to
the status as media under the Media Liability Act.
The media have special rights in relation to court cases. If the court is considering
meetings in camera, any present media reporter has the right to protest, and if the court
in fact does decide to proceed in camera, the media can appeal this decision – provided
that the media comes under the Media Liability Act.
The media have special rights in relation to access to court material. The special rights
are contingent on being covered by the Media Liability Act.
11
12
13
Consolidated Act No 1063/2011.
Cf. U 2002.2503 H, U 2000.1005 Ø and 2009.75 Ø.
Consolidated Act No 85/1998.
118
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Specific positive content obligations
Generally there are in the legislation no specific positive content obligations, but it is
worth mentioning that the radio station Nova FM is obligated to have news and public
affairs programmes.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
The daily newspapers are subsidized by the Danish state primarily in two ways: they
receive direct support for the distribution costs and indirect support due to an exemption
from paying Value Added Tax (VAT). All together, the business in 2007 received Danish
Kroner (DKK) 1.3 billion (approximately EUR 175,000,000) on that account. Magazines
do not qualify for the state subsidy measures (neither the distribution support nor the
VAT exemption).
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
In relation to advertisements for political parties and views section 76 of the
Broadcasting Act stipulates that advertisements for political parties, political movements
and elected members or candidates for political assemblies are not allowed on television.
Further, advertisements for political views and messages are not allowed on television
during the period from the date on which an election for a political assembly or a
referendum is called until the election or the referendum has been held. If the date of the
election or the referendum is announced more than three months before it is held, the
advertisement-free period comes into force three months before the election or
referendum is held.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
According to the Media Liability Act, section 34, the content and conduct of the mass
media shall be in conformity with ethics of journalism. The legal norm “ethics of
journalism” is based on set of Guiding Rules. 14 The Guiding Rules are, as the name
indicates, not binding as a statute, but only guiding. However, the Press Council, who
supervises section 34, often – and apparently increasingly in recent years – cites a
guiding rule if applicable. Ethics of journalism, however, covers a larger area than the
Guiding Rules, and the Press Council has set up its own case ‘law’ without backing in the
rules, especially as regards the use of hidden camera.
The Press Council is funded by public means. It consists of 8 members appointed by the
Minister of Justice and representing legal expertise, editors, journalists and members
representing “the public opinion”. The Press Council can only: (1) make decisions as to
whether the media has acted in accordance with the ethics of journalism; (2) require the
media to publish the decision; and (3) direct the media to bring a reply (as for this right,
see Chapter 4 above). The Council cannot impose fines, require compensation to be
made, let alone punish the media, and it cannot make decisions as to whether the Penal
Code or any other law has been violated, all of which are a matter for the courts. All it
can do is to express its views and require the media to publish it. A media that does not
publish the view of the Press Council or publish an ordered reply is liable to punishment,
a situation dealt with by the public prosecutor and the court. A media that does not
follow the content of the decisions from the Press Council only faces the hassle of
publishing the view by the Council that the media is violating ethics of journalism.
14
An English version of the rules can be found on the Press Council's web page www.pressenaevnet.dk.
119
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The Guiding Rules states, inter alia, that the media is obliged to bring correct
information. When a person is seriously criticized in the media the person must be given
the opportunity to provide his view. Information which can violate a person’s privacy
must be avoided, unless there is a clear public interest which requires publication. To
avoid that the media infringe the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy,
there are also rules concerning court reporting, including that the name and identity of
the convicted as a rule may not be released until after the judgment, unless it is a case
of a clear public interest. Use of hidden camera is as a point of departure to be avoided,
unless the information cannot be obtained by other means and is of public relevance.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
As mentioned in the chapters above, specific provisions regarding the role and
functioning of the regulatory authorities are described in the applicable Codes and Acts.
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
In general, media distribution aspects are regulated under the telecoms regulation,
notably the Act on Electronic Communications Networks and Services 15 and the Act on
Radio Frequencies 16 (implementing the relevant EU telecoms regulation).
As a main rule access to establish electronic communications networks or provide
electronic communications services do not require authorization from a public authority,
save where the access is depending on the use of scarce radio frequencies. This means
that media undertakings that do not provide audiovisual media services or other content
services themselves, but only distribute media services provided by third party, such as
operators of cable or satellite television networks under Danish jurisdiction, are neither
required to obtain a programme license pursuant to the Broadcasting Act, nor required to
obtain an authorization under the telecoms regulation. Hence, they are free to establish
an electronic communication network of any kind and offer to content providers
(broadcasters and others) to distribute their content services to the end users. Only if
radio frequencies are needed, a license is required under the Radio Frequency Act.
The use of radio frequencies – being a scarce public resource – is subject to a license
provided by the Business Agency, according to section 6(1) of the Frequency Act. A
frequency license is required regardless of what kind of communications service is being
transmitted via the frequency. Thus, the use of radio frequencies for broadcasting
purposes also requires a license pursuant to the Frequency Act. However, if a
broadcaster has obtained permission under the Broadcasting Act which requires
possession of a radio frequency, a frequency license under the Frequency Act will
automatically be issued.
The allocation of available frequencies is based on a ‘first come, first served’ principle,
see section 7. However, if the number of applicants exceeds the number of spare
frequencies, the licenses are awarded subject to an auction (based solely on the price
offers) or a public tender (based on a number of criteria). Previously, a specific frequency
was reserved for specific services (e.g., mobile communication, data broadband services,
etc.). In conformity with the developments in the underlying EC regulation, the Business
Agency can now decide that a certain frequency is not subject to any restrictions with
15
16
Act No 169/2011.
Act No 475/2009 on Radio Frequencies.
120
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
regard to choice of service. Likewise, allocated radio frequencies could previously only be
assigned with consent of the IT and Telecom Agency. Now, frequencies can be
transferred without consent, however, provided that the transfer does not unduly restrict
competition on the relevant market. The IT and Telecom Agency and the Competition
Council oversee the effect on competition resulting from a license transfer.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
In accordance with Article 18 of the Framework Directive the Danish Act on Electronic
Communications Networks and Services section 48 set forth rules on third party’s right to
access to “bottlenecks” related to digital television in the form of application protocol
interfaces (API) and electronic programme guides (EPG). The rules are supervised by the
Business Agency. Apart from this, the general rules in the Competition Act apply.
There are no rules regarding circulation instruments for the press, except that the printed
press receives state subsidy for their distribution systems.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
The Broadcasting Act section 6(1) contains the ‘must-carry’ rules, according to which the
owners of communal aerial installations are required to ensure that the public service
channels from DR (DR1 and DR2, the Children’s channel and the Cultural channel) and
TV2 as well as the regional TV2 stations are distributed in the network. The purpose of
the must-carry obligations is to ensure that the part of the population which receives
radio and television programmes via cable-based networks has access to the public
service channels. The Ministry of Culture supervises the must-carry rules.
- Role of platform operators
The switch from analogue terrestrial to digital terrestrial television (DTT) was effected on
1 November 2009, from which date the analogue signal was cancelled and replaced with
the digital. The Swedish company ‘Boxer’ has, subject to a public tender (conducted by
the Radio and Television Board), been appointed as gatekeeper on the new platform, i.e.
is the exclusive administrator of the available frequencies (save the frequencies which
are by statute allotted to the public service broadcasters or other purposes, e.g., mobile
television). Pursuant to the DTT rules set forth in the Broadcasting Act, access to the DTT
platform is based on a commercial agreement on market terms between the content
provider and the gatekeeper.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
See above regarding the Business Agency, the Ministry of Culture and the Radio and
Television Board.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The law foresees no special rules on transparency.
121
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Accountability of public service media
The public service media are obligated to enter into a public service contract with the
Minister of Culture, and to prepare annual reports to the Minister on the fulfilment of the
objectives set forth in the contract.
- Freedom of information laws
Access to information contained in public documents and files are regulated by the
Freedom of Information Act. 17 According to section 1 of the, the scope of the Act is very
broad, as it applies to ‘all activity exercised by the public administration’. The Act does
not apply to the courts or legislators. Documents relating to criminal justice or the
drafting of bills before they are introduced in the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) are
exempted. Authorities who orally receive information of importance to a pending case
have an obligation to prepare a written note of the information, see section 6(1).
The main rule of the Act is section 4(1), which provides ‘everyone’ with a right to
demand documents that are subject to administrative case work or procedure. The right
is primarily used by journalists, but also private individuals and organizations make use
of the Act. The notion of ‘documents' is interpreted widely, encompassing not only
physical documents (papers) but also electronic documents, tapes, microfilm, etc. It is,
however, a requirement according to section 4(3) that a person demanding access is able
– at least broadly – to identify the documents or case he/she wants to examine. 18
Besides the right according to section 4(1) to demand access to documents in general,
section 4(2) provides a person whose personal information is included in a document
within a public authority with the right to access to that information. The right pursuant
to section 4(2) in the Freedom of Information Act is supplemented by a similar right
according to the Data Processing Act 19 Chapter 9.
Chapter 3 of the Act (sections 7–14) contains a number of exceptions to the main rule of
access in section 4(1). For instance, due to considerations to the administrative decisionmaking process, section 7 exempts internal documents, e.g., recommendations from civil
servants to ministers and minutes of proceedings. Records, documents and minutes of
the Council of State and meetings between ministers, correspondence between
authorities and outside experts in drafting laws or for use in court proceedings or
deliberations on possible legal proceedings, as well as material gathered for public
statistics or scientific research are also exempted in their entirety according to section
10.
However, notwithstanding sections 7 and 10 information in such documents which
regards factual circumstances is subject to access in accordance with the main rule in
section 4(1), see section 11. Hence, such information must be extracted from the
relevant documents which are exempted from access.
Access to information can also be restricted to the extent it is deemed necessary subject
to considerations relating to the security of the state and defence of the realm, protection
of foreign policy, law enforcement, taxation and public financial interests, see section 13.
The authorities are obliged to consider in each case whether access to a wider extent
than stipulated can be provided. The Parliamentary Ombudsman, who supervises and
17
18
Act No 572/85.
See e.g. the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s case 2001-0619-501 and case 1996–2735-401.
122
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
controls the legality of the public administration's decisions and activities, has stated that
this obligation is considerably strong with regard to the press' requests for access to
information.
Pursuant to section 15(2), an authority's decision on access to information can be
brought before the authority which is competent to handle complaints regarding the
substance matter of the case from which the request on access is derived. Pursuant to
section 16, authorities must respond as soon as possible to requests, and if the response
takes longer than ten days they must inform the requestor of why the response is
delayed and when an answer is expected. In practice, it happens very often that the
response takes a lot longer than ten days, and information on when an answer can be
expected is often insufficient, making it difficult for notably journalists to obtain access in
due time.
Decisions regarding access to documents can also be brought before the Parliamentary
Ombudsman, cf. the Ombudsman Act. 20
Besides access to documents, access to information in the public sector can be achieved
via access to meetings held in public authorities. As opposed to documents there are no
general rules on the public's (including the press) access to meetings in the public sector.
In the absence of such general rules the starting point is that unless an express rule
authorizes access to specific meetings held in the public sector, no right to such access
exists. Court hearings are open unless decided otherwise by a statute or according to a
statute, section 28a of the Administration of Justice Act. When delivering judgments and
passing sentences, the court is always open, cf. section 28a.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
To the knowledge of the author of this report, there are no relevant schemes to be
reported upon in the above regards.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
The Ombudsman controls all parts of the administration on behalf of the Parliament.
He/she is, however, independent of Parliament in the discharge of his/her functions. Any
person can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman against a public authority. The
Ombudsman can also start its own investigations. The Ombudsman decides for
himself/herself whether he/she wants to investigate a case or not. Thus, as opposed to
the courts the Ombudsman is not forced to take up a case.
The Ombudsman has no power to impose formal sanctions. Hence, he/she cannot alter or
repeal an authority's decision on access to information, or order public authorities to act.
According to section 22 he/she can only review decisions and issue his/her opinions and
recommendations, e.g., that requested documents be released or that the authority
justify its decisions better. His/her recommendations are, however, generally followed by
the administration.
19
20
Act No 429/2000, implementing Directive 95/46/EC on the Processing of Personal Data.
Act No. 473/1996.
123
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
As mentioned above, the Press Council consist of inter alia two members of “the public”.
8.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
8.2.1.
Radio
A large number of radio channels, Danish as well as foreign, are available to Danish
listeners via terrestrial networks, cable, satellite or the Internet. However, the Danes
almost exclusively listen to Danish-produced radio.
Besides DR's 3 nationwide public service radio channels there is a 4th nationwide channel
with public service obligations which previously belonged to DR. However, in order to
create more competition on public service radio the channel was in 2011 subject to a
public tender allotted to a new station, Radio24/7. 21 Further, there are two partly
nationwide FM radio channels, which subject to public tender are allotted to the
commercial stations Nova FM (owned 80% by SBS Broadcasting and 20% by TV2) and
Radio 100 FM (owned by Talpa Radio International). In addition to the nationwide
channels, there are approximately three hundred local radio stations, commercial or noncommercial. The non-commercial stations can apply for state funding based on the
amount of air-time.
8.2.2.
Television
Until the launch of TV2 in 1988, Danmark Radio (DR) had a monopoly to broadcast
nationwide television on the Danish territory. A few channels from our neighbouring
countries Sweden and Germany could also be viewed locally in nearby places in Denmark
due to the surplus of signals which crossed the Danish border from the transmitters
placed close to the Danish border.
Both DR and TV2 are state-owned public service enterprises. As opposed to DR, which is
financed by public service licenses 22 (and is not permitted to sell television
advertisements), TV2 is solely financed by sale of television advertisements and other
commercial funds. Today, DR also runs the channels DR2, the news channel DR Update,
a HD (high definition) channel, a children's channel and a cultural channel. TV2 also runs
the channels TV2 News, TV2 Charlie, TV2 Zulu, TV2 Film and – in cooperation with Viasat
– TV2 Sport. Only the ‘mother’ channel, TV2, is subject to public service obligations.
Despite the availability of many foreign television channels, the Danes still prefer the
channels from DR and TV2.
There are also a large number of local or regional stations in Denmark, either commercial
or non-commercial, which are distributed on cable networks or in ‘windows' on the digital
terrestrial network. None of these holds a market share of any significance.
8.2.3.
Press and Publishing
The many new digital media and changes in media habits in general have resulted in a
decrease of more than 30% of the total number of newspapers sold annually compared
to 1995. Today, there are less than forty different newspapers left, most of which are
local newspapers dealing mainly with local news. Only about ten are nationwide, daily
21
22
Owned jointly by Berlingske Media A/S and the advertising agency People Group A/S.
DR receives about EUR 400 million annually in public service license fees.
124
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
newspapers covering a broad spectrum of subjects (news, sports, art/culture, business,
etc.).
Printed magazines are sold in subscriptions or in single copies and are published weekly,
monthly or quarterly. They normally cover a more narrow scope than newspapers and
are thus targeted at a more limited segment of people. There are more than hundred
different magazines in Denmark.
8.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
All significant Danish media providers, both within print and audiovisual media services
(radio, television, video, music, etc.), have established a website on the Internet as a
supplement to their main distribution platform.
8.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
The cable network operators YouSee (a subsidiary of the incumbent telecom provider
TDC) and Stofa (owned by the Swedish equity company Ratos) cover large parts of the
country. Yousee and Stofa are not themselves programme service providers, but only
distribute programmes provided by other broadcasters. In addition, there are several
hundred communal aerial installations in Denmark which provide cable based radio and
TV to people in local areas.
The main distributors of satellite television are Viasat (a MTG company) and Canal Digital
(owned by the Norwegian telecom provider Telenor). Besides distributing other providers'
channels, Viasat and Canal Digital also distribute their own channels. As with cable
distribution, the channels are either transmitted directly to the households or to
communal aerial installations.
Besides, cable or satellite television is also distributed via the new digital terrestrial
network which by 1 November 2009 replaced the analogue terrestrial network. Subject to
a public tender, the Swedish company Boxer has obtained the right to administer the
distribution of channels on the digital terrestrial platform, apart from a number of
frequencies which by statute are allotted directly to the Danish public service
broadcasters or reserved for, inter alia, mobile television.
Finally, a growing number of households – but still a very small part of the total
households – receives television via the Internet or other IP-based platforms such as
fibre networks.
As mentioned, YouSee is a subsidiary of the ISP TDC. No other ISP’s are providing radio
and TV programmes to the public.
8.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
DR dominates the Danish radio market with a market share of almost 70%. Most of the
remaining 30% market share is held by Radio 24/7 the various commercial stations, with
Radio 100 FM as the runner-up.
The channels from DR and TV2 have a market share of more than two-thirds of the total
television viewing. The last third is divided between a number of foreign enterprises, with
the channels from the UK-established Viasat (TV3 and TV3+) and SBS Broadcasting
(primarily the channels Kanal 4 and Kanal 5) as the dominating ones.
125
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The main players of the ten nationwide, daily newspapers are Berlingske (owned by
Berlingske Media A/S, which is owned by the British controlled Mecom Group PLC),
Jyllands-Posten (owned by the joint venture JP/Politikens Hus A/S), Politiken (likewise
owned by JP/Politikens Hus A/S) and the two tabloids BT and Ekstra Bladet (owned by
Berlingske Media A/S and JP/Politikens Hus A/S, respectively).
In the printed magazines sector, the Danish market is dominated by magazines
published by the Danish media undertakings Aller and Egmont, together with the
Swedish Bonnier. The total revenue from sale of magazines has, by and large, been
constant in recent years, however, with fluctuations among the various kinds of
magazines.
The most popular newspapers' websites as well as the public service broadcasters DR's
and TV2's websites are among the most visited by Danish Internet users.
YouSee and Stofa are the biggest competing cable network operators, while Viasat (a
MTG company) and Canal Digital are the dominant distributors of satellite television to
Danish viewers.
The competition on advertising has been very intense among Danish newspapers. In
2005 the Danish newspapers had a share of 27 percent (421 million Euro), and in 2008 it
was down to 19 percent (367 million Euro). This only adds to the fragile financial
situation among all papers losing advertising, mainly to the Internet 23.
8.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, the citizen’s fundamental right to be fully and objectively informed is
generally well insured in Denmark. Although the Constitution itself serves a rather limited
protection of the media’s right to expression and information, such protection follows
from Denmark’s implementation of the ECHR as well as case law and legal tradition.
Danish media law and regulation generally constitutes a framework which on the one
hand secures the media’s protection of sources, access to court proceedings and public
documents etc., and on the other hand protects the citizen’s against the media’s violation
of privacy, defamation, use of undocumented information etc. The legal framework
regarding market entry is rather liberal and conforms with the underlying EU regulation.
The absence of media ownership rules in Denmark makes it possible for media
companies, national as well as foreign, to expand both vertically and horizontally in the
media value chain. For the time being this has not resulted in concentrations to the
detriment of competition and media plurality in the Danish media market, but it is an
issue which should be monitored closely in future.
23
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/denmark/.
126
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
9.
ESTONIA
9.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
9.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are set forth in the Estonian Constitution 1 and
can be restricted by law only if such possibility is specifically set forth in the constitution.
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The freedom of expression – everyone’s right to freely circulate ideas, opinions,
persuasions, and other information by word, print, picture and other means - is
enshrined in Art. 45 of the Estonian Constitution, as already quoted in the study of 2004
titled “Information of the citizens in the EU.”
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
The Estonian Constitution does not contain any specific safeguards and rights for the
media.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The freedom of information – everyone’s right to freely receive information circulated for
general use, as well as certain information on the work of state and local government or
personal information held by state and local government - is guaranteed in Art. 44 of the
Estonian Constitution as already quoted in the study of 2004 titled “Information of the
citizens in the EU.”
- Specific rights for the citizens
Art. 44 of the Estonian Constitution provides that Estonian citizens may request
information, and to the extent and in accordance with procedures determined by law, all
state and local government authorities and their officials are obliged to provide
information on their work, with the exception of information which is forbidden by law to
be divulged, and information which is intended for internal use only. Furthermore,
Estonian citizens have the right to become acquainted with information about themselves
held by state and local government authorities and in state and local government
archives, in accordance with procedures determined by law. This right may be restricted
by law in order to protect the rights and liberties of other persons, and the secrecy of
children's ancestry, as well as to prevent a crime, or in the interests of apprehending a
criminal or to clarify the truth for a court case.
Unless otherwise determined by law, the same rights exist equally for Estonian citizens
and citizens of other states and stateless persons who are present in Estonia.
1
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X0000K1&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=p%F5hiseadus.
127
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
No such safeguards have been specifically mentioned in Estonian law.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
Universal service is regulated in Estonian law only in the context of electronic
communications law.
9.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
The written press is not specifically regulated in Estonian legal acts and relies on selfregulation and general laws, while the requirements of the provision of media services
such as radio and television services have been laid out in the Media Services Act 2 that
was adopted on 16 December 2010 and that came into force on 16 January 2011. Before
the adoption of the Media Services Act, the same principles were contained in the
Broadcasting Act that became invalid as of the enforcement of the Media Services Act.
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
To enter the market, the media service providers require a media service license.
According to Art. 32 of the Media Services Act television or radio service can only be
provided on the basis of an activity licence for provision of television or radio service that
is issued to a natural or legal person on the following conditions: its programme service
complies with the requirements provided for in the Media Services Act; its activities do
not cause violation of contractual obligations taken by the Republic of Estonia; it is not by
means of the governing effect over management connected to the undertaking that has
been granted the activity licence for provision of television and radio service which may
result in substantially damaging the competition in the media services market,
particularly through creation or reinforcement of the dominant position in the market.
The Media Services Act sets forth the following types of activity license: activity license
for provision of free access television service (Art. 33), for provision of conditional access
television services (Art. 34), provision of radio service (Art. 35), provision of satellite
television service (Art. 36) and for temporary provision of television and radio service
(Art. 37). Applications for activity license are filed with the Ministry of Culture and
reviewed and evaluated by an Advisory Committee of up to 11 members, which include
the representatives of agencies related to media services and experts (Art. 39 and Art.
41).
According to Art. 43 Sect. 1 of the Media Services Act, for the issuance of an activity
licence for the provision of free access television and radio service, a competition is
organised and the license is issued to the applicant who has made the best bid in the
selection procedure. Art. 43 Sect. 2 of the Media Services Act sets forth the criteria for
selecting the best bidder, these include among others:
 the diversity of the intended programme service and distinction from other
programme services of the same kind;
2
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=xxxxxx01&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=meedia.
128
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 proportion of own production in the programme service;
 target audience;
 proportion of verbal and news broadcasts in the programme service;
 business plan;
 the former activities of the applicant in the provision of media services;
 the economic situation of the applicant and sustainability in the provision of the
service.
According to Art. 47 of the Media Services Act, on-demand audiovisual media service can
be provided by a media service provider that has been entered in the Register of
Economic Activities, whereas such service provider may provide only on demand
services. The relevant application for registration is submitted to the Ministry of Culture
and the information of the application is entered into the Register of Economic Activities
in the procedure provided for by the Register of Economic Activities Act 3.
National Broadcasting is a legal person in public law founded by the Estonian National
Broadcasting Act and it does not require any activity license or registration for its
activities.
The objective of National Broadcasting is to assist in the performance of the functions of
the Estonian state provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (Art. 4). For
such purposes, National Broadcasting creates programme services, produce and mediate
programmes and organise other activities which, separately or as a set:
 support the development of the Estonian language and culture;
 enhance the guarantees of the permanence of the Estonian state and nation, and
draw attention to the circumstances which may endanger the permanence of the
Estonian state and nation;
 assist in the increase of the social cohesion of the Estonian society;
 assist in the increase of the economic wellbeing and competitive ability of Estonia;
 assist in the promotion of the democratic system of government;
 explain the need for the economical use and sustainable development of the natural
environment;
 enhance the family-based model of society;
 assist in the audio-visual recording of Estonian history and culture;
 guarantee the availability of the information needed by each person for his or her
self-realisation.
3
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X80016K2&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=majandustegevuse.
129
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In order to achieve the above goals, National Broadcasting performs the following public
functions (Art. 5):
 produce at least two television programme services and four twenty-four-hour radio
programme services; the programme services must be available to the public by
public means. As far as possible, the original programmes offered by the television
programme services shall be made available, to the maximum extent, to persons
with hearing disabilities;
 make available, to a reasonable extent, the programme services and the
programmes' archive through electronic networks;
 produce other media services with the permission of the National Broadcasting
Council, and distribute the products related to them;
 record events and works of significant importance to the Estonian national culture
or history, and guarantee the preservation of the recordings;
 guarantee, under the conditions provided by law, the accessibility of its audio-visual
records. The records are used for profit-making activities pursuant to the procedure
provided by the National Broadcasting Council;
 distribute the programmes and media services introducing Estonian culture and
society all over the world;
 intermediate the best works of the world culture;
 transmit programmes which, within the limits of the possibilities of National
Broadcasting, meet the information needs of all sections of the population,
including minorities;
 maintain and develop the professional creative and technical level of National
Broadcasting;
 guarantee the operational transmission of adequate information in situations which
pose a danger to the population or the state;
 reflect, to the maximum possible extent, the events which take place in Estonia in
its news programmes and other programmes.
The programme services and media services have to:
 meet the objectives of National Broadcasting and serve the public interest;
 be diverse and deal with the topics of social life in a balanced manner;
 promote communication between the members of the society and social groups, the
social cohesion of the society, and reflect different opinions and beliefs.
The news programmes of National Broadcasting have to be diverse, balanced,
independent and appropriate. Before transmitting the news, the information on which
they are based has to be verified with reasonable diligence. Fact and commentary have
to be clearly differentiated in a news broadcast.
130
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Launching of print publications in the market does not require any license, registration or
notification.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
There are no specific provisions in the Competition Act 4 with regard to the media and
thus the general competition rules on concentrated parties and mergers also apply to the
media sector.
The Competition Act sets forth the criteria for determining when a concentration is
subject to control in Estonia. A concentration is subject to control by the Competition
Authority if, during the previous financial year, the aggregate turnover in Estonia of the
parties to the concentration exceeded 6.391.200 EUR and the aggregate turnover in
Estonia of each of at least two parties to the concentration exceeded 1.917.350 EUR (Art.
21 Sect. 1 of the Competition Act). A concentration is not controlled by the Competition
Authority if the concentration is subject to control pursuant to Council Regulation
139/2004/EC on the control of concentrations between undertakings (OJ L 24,
29.01.2004, pp. 1–22), unless the European Commission appoints, pursuant to Article 9
of such Regulation, the Competition Authority as the authority competent to exercise
control over the concentration (Art. 21 Sect. 2 of the Competition Act). According to Art.
22 Sect 3 of the Competition Act, the Competition Authority shall prohibit a concentration
if it is likely to significantly restrict competition in the goods market above all, by creating
or strengthening a dominant position.
According to Art. 13 Sect. 1 of the Competition Act, an undertaking in a dominant
position is an undertaking or several undertakings operating in the same market whose
position enables it/them to operate in the market to an appreciable extent independently
of competitors, suppliers and buyers. Dominant position is presumed if an undertaking or
accounts for at least 40 per cent of the turnover in the market or several undertakings
operating in the same market if it/they account for at least 40 per cent of the turnover in
the market. Art. 16 prohibits the abuse of dominant position.
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of the media services providers or print
media.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The legal status, objective, functions, financing, and organisation of management and
activities of Estonian National Broadcasting are set forth in the Estonian National
Broadcasting Act. 5 According to Art. 7 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the
financing of the National Broadcasting is based on its revenue comprised of the following:
 the annual appropriation from the state budget;
 income from the sale of the transmission and distribution rights of its own
programmes and media services;
 income from the grant for use for profit-making activities of the materials from its
archives;
4
5
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X50066K7&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=konkurentsi.
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=XX10025&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=ringh%E4%E4lingu+seadus.
131
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 income from the sale of the property of National Broadcasting;
 gifts and donations which are not deemed to be support received from sponsorship;
 interest and other financial income;
 income from the sale of the products and services of National Broadcasting which is
not in conflict with the objectives of National Broadcasting;
 financing for projects intended for specific purposes;
 other income from the activity of National Broadcasting which is not in conflict with
the objectives of National Broadcasting and which has been approved by the
National Broadcasting Council.
The budget is prepared by the management board of the National Broadcasting before
the beginning of the next financial year or not later than within two weeks after the
approval of the state budget by the Parliament. The budget sets out all the income,
expenditure and financing transactions for the next financial year and is prepared using
the accrual method, and a cash flow plan for the financial year and the next four years
shall be appended to it.
The budget of the National Broadcasting is approved by the National Broadcasting
Council. Until the budget has been approved, the expenditure of National Broadcasting
for one calendar month cannot exceed the total expenses during the same calendar
month of the previous year.
During a financial year, the National Broadcasting Council may pass a supplementary
budget of National Broadcasting in order to correspondingly increase or decrease the
revenue and expenditure of National Broadcasting in a balanced manner.
The National Broadcasting Council approves the procedure for registration and disclosure
of the donations and support for projects intended for specific purposes which are
granted to National Broadcasting. If such disclosure takes place via the programme
services of National Broadcasting, the information concerning the supporters and donors
of a project include only the name of the supporter or donor.
According to Art. 8 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the National Broadcasting
possesses, uses and disposes of its assets for performance of its functions pursuant to
the procedures established on the basis of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act.
National Broadcasting has no right to:
 be the founder of a company or non-profit association, or a shareholder of a
company;
 guarantee, with its assets, the liabilities of other persons;
 secure its obligations with all of their immovable or movable property or with a part
thereof which exceeds 50 per cent of the book value of all of the immovable or
movable property;
 transfer their assets free of charge or for a charge less than the usual value of the
assets, to grant sponsorships or other financial donations, or give loans.
132
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
National Broadcasting is prohibited from assuming obligations if, as the result of the
transaction, the planned repayments and interest payments during even one year exceed
20 % of the annual income of National Broadcasting.
The term for performance of the obligations assumed by National Broadcasting cannot
exceed twenty five years.
According to Art 9 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, each financial year, the
management board of the National Broadcasting prepares a development plan that must
cover the following financial year and the three financial years following that year. The
development plan sets forth the goals for development of the National Broadcasting for
each corresponding financial year, the tasks for reaching such goals and the reasoning
behind it, and a budgetary strategy for reaching the development goals. Among other,
the development plan sets forth the structure of the programme service to be
transmitted during the financial year and the considerations for its creation, a
justification of how the structure of the chosen programme services helps to perform the
functions of National Broadcasting, the objectives and reasons for developing the media
services, co-operation with international organisations and the principles for using the
budget planned for the financial year in order to reach the goals and perform the duties
that have been set. The management board of National Broadcasting submits the draft of
the development plan to the National Broadcasting Council for approval not later than
eleven months before the beginning of the relevant financial year. The National
Broadcasting Council approves the development plan not later than by 1 March each
year. If the development plan is not approved by the prescribed date, the development
plan prepared during the preceding year is deemed to be the development plan for the
next year.
Together with the draft of a development plan, the National Broadcasting Council
receives also an impact analysis which provides a reasoned assessment of the
performance of the development goals set forth in the development plan and the
conformity of the activity of National Broadcasting to the law. The impact analysis is an
annex to the development plan of the next financial year (Art. 12 of the Estonian
National Broadcasting Act).
In order to receive support from the state budget for the performance of the functions of
the National Broadcasting as set out in the law, a contract under public law is concluded
between National Broadcasting and the Ministry of Culture (Art. 10 of the Estonian
National Broadcasting Act). The management board of the National Broadcasting submits
the draft of the contract which has been approved by the National Broadcasting Council
to the Ministry of Culture not later than by 15 February of the current year.
Simultaneously with approving the national budgetary strategy, the Government of the
Republic authorises the Minister of Culture to conclude the contract. The contract is
signed by the Ministry of Culture and the chairman of the management board of National
Broadcasting. If the amount of support allocated from the state budget provided by the
contract changes after approval of the national budgetary strategy and after the approval
of the state budget, or it is altered by a supplementary budget or amendment to the
state budget, the corresponding amendments are made to the contract under the terms
and pursuant to the procedure prescribed by the contract.
National Broadcasting is independent in the production and transmission of its
programmes, programme services and other media services, and is guided exclusively by
the requirements of law (Art. 3 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act).
133
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
National Broadcasting cannot transmit advertising and teleshopping and cannot receive
support from sponsorship. The National Broadcasting Council may permit the
transmission of advertising or sponsor information in the programmes or media services
of National Broadcasting as an exception, if:
 it relates to the broadcasting rights of an international major event acquired via the
EBU (European Broadcasting Union), or
 it relates to the broadcasting rights of a cultural or sports event of significant public
interest.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
According to Art. 54 of the Media Services Act, the Ministry of Culture has the authority
of the state supervision over the compliance of media service providers with the Media
Services Act.
According to Art 13 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the National Broadcasting
Council (hereinafter Council) is the highest directing body of National Broadcasting that
plans the activities of National Broadcasting, organises the management of National
Broadcasting and supervises the activities of the management board.
According to Art. 14 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the Council consists of
members of the Parliament and of acknowledged experts in the field of activity of
National Broadcasting. On the proposal of the Parliament’s Cultural Affairs Committee,
the Parliament appoints one representative from each faction of the Parliament until the
date of termination of the authority of the composition of the Parliament (upon
termination of the authority of the composition of the Parliament, the Council members
who are members of the Parliament stay with the Council until the entry into force of the
decision to appoint members of the new composition of the Parliament to the Council)
and four experts from among the acknowledged experts in the field of activity of National
Broadcasting whose term of office lasts for five years.
The Council has exclusive competence to:
 approve of and supervise over the execution of the budget of National
Broadcasting;
 approve of the internal audit rules and the work schedule of the internal auditor of
National Broadcasting;
 approve of the procedure for use and disposal of assets of National Broadcasting;
 approve of the interim report on execution of the budget and the audited annual
account of National Broadcasting;
 determine the structure of National Broadcasting;
 increase the number of programme services of National Broadcasting;
 exercise supervision over performance of the objectives and functions of National
Broadcasting.
134
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
According to Art. 34 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the State Audit Office
exercises economic control over the activity of National Broadcasting pursuant to the
State Audit Office Act, the Technical Supervisory Board exercises control over compliance
of the National Broadcasting with the Electronic Communications Act, the Ministry of
Culture exercises supervision over adherence to the requirements provided in the Media
Services Act and Estonian National Broadcasting Act, whereas the Ministry of Culture has
the right to involve experts in the exercise of supervision.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Art. 13 of the Media Services Act sets forth the right of a media service provider to
determine the contents and positioning of its broadcasts and programmes within the
limits of the media services license held by it. Transmission of a broadcast or a part
thereof may be prohibited by court in matters being reviewed by it on the grounds and
following the procedures set forth under the law.
Art. 15 of the Media Services Act sets forth the principles of protecting sources. The
person processing information for journalistic purposes is entitled not to disclose
information that may reveal the source and can disclose such information only upon the
prior consent of the source. No consent for disclosure is needed if the source has
knowingly provided false information. The same applies to persons who due to their
professional duties become aware of the information that may reveal the source of the
person processing the information for journalistic purposes. The law further prohibits any
direct or indirect influencing of such persons with the purpose to identify the source of
information. Information enabling to reveal the source however has to be disclosed on
the terms and conditions set forth in the Criminal Proceedings Act 6.
According to the amendments made into the Criminal Proceedings Act in the end of
2010, the person processing information for journalistic purposes (this include media and
written press journalists both) has the right to refuse as a witness in criminal
proceedings to disclose information which may reveal the identity of the source of such
information, except in case the collection of evidence in other way is excluded or
materially difficult and the subject of the criminal proceedings is a crime which is
punishable with at least up to eight years of imprisonment, there is dominant public
interest in the testimony and the person is obliged to testify on the grounds of a ruling of
a preliminary investigation judge or court issued at the request of the prosecutor’s office.
There is no right to refuse from testifying when testimony is requested by the suspect or
the accused. The same applies with regard to persons who in the course of performing
his or her duties become involved with circumstances enabling to identify the identity of
the source of person processing information on journalistic purposes. If the court finds
that refusal to testify is not related to professional activities, the relevant persons might
still be obliged to testify.
Searches can be conducted at the premises of the person processing information on
journalistic purposes only upon the ruling of a preliminary investigation judge or court.
Similar rules for refusing to testify are now set forth also in the Code of Civil Procedure 7.
6
7
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X60027K6&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=kriminaalmenetluse.
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X90041&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=tsiviilkohtu.
135
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The said amendments faced resistance and strong criticism from journalists. In March
2010 six major Estonian dailies left some pages blank in protest against the said
amendments as these were found to compel journalists to reveal their sources and seen
as a restriction on press freedom that could lead to imprisonment especially in the field
of investigative journalism.
The right to privacy is enshrined in Art. 26 of the Estonian Constitution: “Everyone has
the right to the inviolability of private and family life”.
Art. 11 of the Personal Data Protection Act 8 allows processing of personal data for
journalistic purposes and disclosing these in media without the consent of the data
subject if there is dominant public interest in it and if it is in compliance with the
principles of journalism ethics. Disclosure of data cannot excessively harm the interests
of the data subjects. If data is being disclosed in accordance with the aforementioned
principle, the data subject has no right to demand that disclosing of data is stopped. If no
dominant public interest can be identified, then data can be disclosed upon the consent
of the data subject and in such case the data subject may demand at any time that
disclosure is stopped, unless the continuing disclosure does not harm the data subject’s
rights excessively. It is not possible to demand stopping of disclosure with regard to such
data carriers over which the person who disclosed the data has no control when the
request for stopping is submitted.
Protection of one’s reputation against defamation is set forth in Art. 17 of the Estonian
Constitution:
According to Art. 131 of the Law of Obligations Act, in the case of an obligation to
compensate for damage caused by defamation or by violation of any other personality
right, the obligated person has to compensate the aggrieved person for the expenses
caused to the person and for damage arising from a decrease in income or deterioration
of the future economic potential of the aggrieved person. Art. 134 Sect. 2 of the Law of
Obligations Act sets forth that in the case of an obligation to compensate for damage
arising from violation of personality rights, including defamation of a person, the
aggrieved person has to be paid a reasonable amount of money as compensation for
moral damage. The gravity and scope of the violation and the conduct and attitude of the
person who caused damage to the aggrieved person after the violation has to be taken
into account for the purposes of determining the compensation for moral damage (Art.
134 Sect. 5). In addition the court may, upon determining the compensation for moral
damage for defamation of a person, inter alia by passing undue judgement or by
disclosure of incorrect information, for unjustified use of the name or image of the
person, or for breaching the inviolability of the private life or other similar personality
rights of the person, take into consideration the need to exert influence upon the person
who caused the damage to avoid causing further damage, taking into account the
financial situation of the person who caused the damage (Art. 134 Sect. 6). The concept
of so-called “preventive damages” based on the financial situation of the person who
caused the damage is new in Estonian law and was introduced only in the end of 2010.
So far the issue of moral damage has been problematic. The courts tend to adjudicate
moral damage only in relation to bodily injuries and judgments related to moral damage
arising out of defamation are scarce, the biggest issue remaining how to assess the
amount of moral damage.
8
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=XXXX041K1&keel=
en&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=isikuandmete.
136
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Pursuant to Art. 1055 Sect. 1 of the Law of Obligations Act if unlawful damage is caused
continually or a threat is made that unlawful damage will be caused, the victim or the
person who is threatened has the right to demand that behavior which causes damage be
terminated or the making of threats with such behavior be refrained from. In the case of
violation of inviolability of personal life or any other personality rights, it may be
demanded, inter alia, that the tortfeasor be prohibited to approach other persons
(restraining order), the use of housing or communication be regulated or other similar
measures be applied. The right to demand that behavior which causes damage be
terminated does not apply if it is reasonable to expect that such behavior can be
tolerated in human co-existence or due to significant public interest. In such case, the
victim has the right to make a claim for compensation for unlawfully caused damage
(Art. 1055 Sect. 2).
A notice-and-take-down policy has being introduced to anonymous comment sections
online, a forced outcome of some corresponding court rulings. Internet companies have
tried to decline their liability for the content of the anonymous comments readers may
add to editorial news items. Media sites do not produce this content — rather, it is usergenerated— and some websites do not pre-review user-generated content at all. The
notice-and-take-down policy relies on readers to report “bad” comments, which
consequently shall be removed from the website by the editorial board. 9
Art. 20 of the Media Services Act entitles any private individual or legal entity, regardless
of citizenship or location, whose legal rights, especially reputation, has been harmed as a
result of presenting incorrect facts in the course of provision of media services, to object
or request taking of other equal measures allowed under the law. The media service
provider has to ensure the possibility to object or take other equal measures without
presenting any undue deadlines or terms and conditions. In order to object, one has to
send his or her request in writing to the media service provider within 20 days as of the
transmission of the broadcast that caused the need for objection. The objection has to be
transmitted in the same programme free of charge within 20 days as of the receiving the
request for objection. A request for objecting may be rejected if the objection is
ungrounded and if the request constitutes a punishable act or if satisfaction of the
request would bring along civil liability for the media service provider or if it violates the
generally acknowledged moral norms.
Everyone has the right to file objections against statements made in a programme of
National Broadcasting within thirty days after the programme was broadcast. An
objection is to be first reviewed by the executive producer of the programme against
which the objection was filed, and the executive producer decides on broadcasting the
objection. If the executive producer decides not to broadcast the objection, he or she
informs the ethics adviser of the National Broadcaster thereof and submits the objection
together with his or her explanation to the management board of the National
Broadcaster for making a decision. For deciding on the broadcasting of the objection, the
ethics adviser submits a reasoned opinion to the management board. The National
Broadcasting shall broadcast the objection or make a decision not to broadcast the
objection without delay but not later than within thirty days after receiving the
application for broadcasting the objection.
- Specific positive content obligations
According to Art. 8 of the Media Services Act, a television and radio service provider
reserves inter alia that at least five percent of the daily transmission time of the
9
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
137
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
programme service on at least six days a week for transmitting self-produced news
programmes, except in the programme service of National Holidays. A self-produced
news programme is also deemed to be such a news programme that includes the news
produced by at least two different news producers.
Each year the television service provider has to submit to the Ministry of Culture the data
on meeting the above requirement.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
According to Media Services Act, news and current affairs programmes shall not be
sponsored. There are no funding schemes for specifically desired content.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
The programmes of National Broadcasting have to be politically balanced. In particular,
the political balance requirement must be adhered to during the period of active election
propaganda in the elections of the President of the Republic, the Riigikogu, the European
Parliament and local government councils. For such purpose, National Broadcasting gives
equal opportunities to all the candidates participating in the elections of the President of
the Republic, to all the political parties and independent candidates participating in the
elections of the Riigikogu and the European Parliament and, taking account of the large
number of election coalitions and independent candidates in the elections of local
governments, creates opportunities for as many powers as possible who participate in
the elections and have an integral programme to adequately present their viewpoints.
Similarly to the elections of local governments, equal opportunities have to be created in
the event of referendums. The rules for reflecting elections in the programme services of
National Broadcasting are approved by the National Broadcasting Council and such rules
are disclosed not later than within a week after the date of announcement of the
elections.
Art. 14 of the Media Services Act requires the media service providers, who allocate
during the active election rallies of elections to European Parliament, Estonian
Parliament, councils of local governments broadcasting time for a party or a political
movement to present their opinions, to offer an equal presentation opportunity without
any undue delay also to another party or political movement upon their written request.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
There are still two main self-regulation bodies – the Council of the Public Word 10 and the
Press Council 11 - as described in the study of 2004. These two bodies do not recognize
each other, but use the same Code of Ethics, which is followed both by electronic media
and written media journalists. The principles set forth in the Code of Ethics have
remained the same since 2004. The majority of mainstream media organizations
(including online media and TV broadcasters) only recognize the press council that is
affiliated with the Estonian Newspaper Association. The original press council works
jointly with the Journalists’ Union, still finding cooperation with some media outlets and
channels 12.
Art. 22 of the Media Services Act allows persons active in the sphere of media services to
create on their own initiative a system the participants in which voluntarily determine
10
11
http://www.asn.org.ee/.
http://www.eall.ee/pressinoukogu/index.html.
138
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
common recommendations and rules establishing standards as an operation manual with
the purpose of regulating the activities taking place in the sphere of media services and
establish the limits of good and bad practises for the participants. Such self regulating
associations also determine voluntarily the procedure of adhering to the established rules
and the liability for breach thereof.
Complaints can be also filed with the Council of the Public Word 13 and the Press
Council 14.
The Press Council accepts a complaint about an article not older than three months and
rejects a complaint in case the identity of the person filing a complaint cannot be
ascertained, if there already is a pending court procedure in the same issue or in case
the complaint is not related to good journalistic practices 15.
The Council of the Public Word accepts a complaint about an article or broadcast not
older than six months. On its own initiative, the council may review also complaints
regarding older materials. The complaint is not processed if:
 the case is already pending in court or investigative body (an exception can be
made at the request of such court or investigative body;
 the case is not in the competence of the Council of the Public Word;
 it is evident from the materials of the case or complaint that the matter is a legal
dispute;
 the object of the complaint is not evident;
 the contents of the complaint is explicit or derogatory or slanderous;
 the complaint has not been translated into Estonian (an exception can be made if
the person filing the complaint is a citizen of a foreign country and in a language
easily understandable for the members of the council);
 the complaint is anonymous 16.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The relevant supervisory functions are carried out by the Ministry of Culture.
According to Art. 38 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the National Broadcasting
has to record all programmes that are broadcast, whereas such recordings of
programmes have to be preserved at least for thirty days after the time of their
broadcasting. After the expiry of the said term, deliberation whether the recording has to
be preserved for a specified term or without a specified term will take place by a
committee formed by the management board of the National Broadcasting, which
committee, based on the guidelines concorded with the National Archives and approved
by the National Broadcasting Council, will deliberate the preservation of the recording of
programmes. If an objection is submitted concerning the content of a programme or the
12
13
14
15
16
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
http://www.asn.org.ee/.
http://www.eall.ee/pressinoukogu/index.html.
http://www.eall.ee/pressinoukogu/kuidas_esitada_kaebust.html.
http://www.asn.org.ee/kodukord.html.
139
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
content of a programme is contested before the expiry of the said term of preservation
the recording of the programme is preserved until the objection has been broadcast in
the programme service of National Broadcasting or until the dispute is brought to a final
conclusion.
According to Art. 39 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, everyone has the right to
examine the recording of a programme within the above referred term of preservation.
Where necessary, the National Broadcasting issues a copy of the programme to the
applicant. The applicant bears the costs of making the copy.
According to Art. 32 Sect 1 of the Personal Data Protection Act, the supervision of the
compliance with the principles of the Personal Data Protection Act is exercised by the
Estonian Personal Data Protection Inspectorate.
According to Art. 22 and 23 of the Personal Data Protection Act, a data subject has a
right of recourse to the Data Protection Inspectorate or a court if the data subject finds
that his or her rights are violated in the processing of personal data. If the rights of a
data subject have been violated upon processing of personal data, the data subject has
the right to demand compensation for the damage caused to him or her: on the basis
and pursuant to the procedure provided by the State Liability Act 17 if the rights were
violated in the process of performance of a public duty, or on the basis and pursuant to
the procedure provided by the Law of Obligations Act 18 if the rights were violated in a
private law relationship.
 Distribution Aspects
Requirements related to access to frequencies and distribution networks and must carry
rules for electronic media are set forth in the Electronic Communications Act 19.
- Access to frequencies
Radio frequencies are regulated in Chapter 3 of the Electronic Communications Act. The
manner, regime and purpose of using radio frequencies is determined in the Estonian
radio frequency allocation plan. The preparation of the Estonian radio frequency
allocation plan shall be based on the principles of neutrality of electronic communications
services and technological neutrality, which observance may be derogated from only for
the purposes of service quality, maximization of radio frequency sharing and efficient use
of radio frequencies. The Estonian radio frequency allocation plan, among other things,
determines the radio frequency bands for the introduction of new technologies together
with restrictions on new and existing users, self-planned frequency bands and radio
frequency bands the right of use of which is granted by way of public competition or the
right of use of which can be transferred. As a rule the use of radio frequencies is
permitted on the basis of a frequency authorization issued by the Technical Surveillance
Authority.
Upon grant of the right to use a radio frequency band by way of public competition, the
Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications may determine a one-off authorisation
charge of up to 1,597,000 EUR and a deposit for participation in the competition. The
17
18
19
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X40075K2&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=riigivastutuse.
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X30085K4&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=v%F5la%F5igusseadus.
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X90001K4&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=elektroonilise+side.
140
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
one-off authorisation charge is determined as a fixed charge or, in the case of an auction,
as a starting price. The deposit must be equal to all participants in the public competition
and must not exceed the one-off authorisation charge taken for the right to use a radio
frequency band. The deposit is returned after the winner of the competition is
ascertained. In 2010 the Minister of Economy and Communications issued a regulation
laying down the procedures for holding a public competition for granting frequency
permits for provision of the service of transmitting television broadcasts and programmes
in the frequency band 470–790 MHz 20.
The right to use radio frequencies may not be transferred or granted for use on the basis
of a contract for use in the case of a frequency authorization, whereby the right to use
radio frequencies in the broadcasting network is granted.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
Art. 67 of the Electronic Communications Act obliges a communications undertaking
which provides conditional access systems to ensure that the conditional access systems
allow the technical conduct of cost-oriented cross-checks of services provided by other
communications undertakings by means of conditional access systems. If the access of a
provider of television or radio services to the potential viewers and listeners depends on
the conditional access services, a communications undertaking which provides services of
conditional access to the provider of television and radio services is required to: provide
to the provider of television or radio services on a fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis, technical services, which allow the viewers or listeners equipped
with decoding devices to receive the digitally transmitted services of the provider of
television or radio services; keep separate accounts of its activities as a provider of
conditional access services.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
Art. 90 of the Electronic Communications Act sets forth the obligation of the
communications undertaking which provides cable distribution services to guarantee the
continuous retransmission of the following programmes: television programmes of the
Estonian public provider of media services; television programmes transmitted by a
provider of television services with unrestricted access that are received in the cable
network area at a signal intensity compatible with the technical requirements and for the
transmission of which the provider of television services requires no charge.
The above programmes have to be transmitted as a single package based on a
subscription contract entered into between the communications undertaking which
provides cable distribution services and the end-user. The programmes not specified
above are transmitted based on an agreement between the communications undertaking
and the end-user. A communications undertaking must ensure the end-user with the
possibility to view the programmes offered by way of cable distribution services to the
full extent of the duration of the broadcasting time, unless the contracting parties agree
otherwise.
In May 2012 the private broadcasters TV3 and Kanal 2 raised an issue over leaving the
freee acess television scheme because it was not clear from the above referred Art. 90 of
the Electronic Communications Act whether they can charge fees from the cable
distribution service providers for retransmission of their programmes or not, and both
20
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X90001K4&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=elektroonilise+side (not available in English).
141
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
concerned parties interpret the provision proceeding from own business interests. As a
result the Economic Affairs Committee of the Parliament initiated amendments to the
said provision that would clearly provide for such right in order to enable the private
broadcasters to receive reasonable compensation for the significant costs they incur in
connection with the production of their programmes. The relevant amendment law has
currently passed second reading in the Parliament and is envisaged to be adopted by
autumn. The cable distribution service providers have however questioned this move,
because it might raise prices of their services to end-users.
- Role of platform operators
Art 901 of the Electronic Communications Act sets forth the obligation of a provider of
multiplexing services to ensure, at the request of a public provider of media services, the
transmission of television programmes of the latter. A public provider of media services
must give the provider of multiplexing services an advance written notice of its wish for
transmission of its television programmes at least six months prior to the
commencement of transmission. A provider of multiplexing services who transmits
television programmes of the public provider of media services and the holder of an
activity licence for the provision of television services with unrestricted access may
change the transmission parameters such that the reception of television programmes is
guaranteed in conformity with the established requirements.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
Radio frequencies are managed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications
and the Technical Surveillance Authority.
Supervision over compliance with the Electronic Communications Act is exercised by the
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Technical Surveillance
Authority (granting of authorizations and technical aspects) and the Competition
Authority (market related issues). In aspects concerning end-users as consumers,
supervision is also exercised by the Consumer Protection Board.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
All media undertakings have to be also registered in the Estonian Commercial Register
and depending on the type of undertaking their shares have to be or may be registered
in Estonian Central Register of Securities, which registers both are public and accessible
to everyone.
- Accountability of public service media
The report on execution of the budget and the audited annual account is published on the
website of National Broadcasting not later than by the end of the month of their
preparation.
A development plan approved by the National Broadcasting Council is forwarded to the
Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Culture. A development plan is published on
the website of National Broadcasting.
142
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The contract under public law concluded between National Broadcasting and the Ministry
of Culture in order to is published on the web pages of the Ministry of Culture and
National Broadcasting within one week after the date of signing of the contract.
The National Broadcasting Council submits a written and an oral report on its activities to
the Parliament’s Cultural Affairs Committee once a year.
In order to fulfil its tasks, the Council has the right to examine all documents of National
Broadcasting and to check the accuracy of the accounting of National Broadcasting, the
existence of assets of National Broadcasting and the conformity of the activities of
National Broadcasting with the law. The members of the Council may demand copies of
reports and documents unless the Council decides otherwise. The Council has the right to
obtain information concerning the activities of National Broadcasting from the
management board and to demand an activity report and preparation of a balance sheet
from the management board.
According to Art. 23 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the management board of
National Broadcasting is the management body who represents and manages National
Broadcasting. While doing so, the management board is guided by the budget,
development plan and strategic documents approved by the Council. The management
board presents the Council with an overview of the economic activities and economic
situation of National Broadcasting at least once every three months and gives
immediately notice of any material deterioration in the economic condition of National
Broadcasting or of any other material circumstances related to the economic activities of
National Broadcasting.
After the end of the financial year, the management board of the National Broadcasting
prepares the annual report and activity report pursuant to the procedure provided by
law. The reports are submitted to the Council of the National Broadcasting for approval
within four months after the end of the financial year. Prior to submitting the annual
report to the Council for approval, the management board submits the annual accounts
to the auditor for audit. The audited and approved annual report and activity report of
National Broadcasting are published in the Riigi Teataja Lisa (Annex to State Gazette) and
the website of National Broadcasting (Art. 32 and 33 of the Estonian National
Broadcasting Act).
- Freedom of information laws
As referred to in the constitution, the extent and procedures of access to information are
determined by the law. Such law is the Public Information Act 21 that is in force since 1
January 2001. Although the said legal act has since then over the years undergone some
amendments, the main principles of access to information have remained essentially the
same as described in the study of 2004. The Public Information Act contains a specific
obligation of state and local government agencies to communicate information
concerning events and facts that they possess and in respect of which public interest can
be presumed to providers of media services or the printed press for disclosure (Art. 30
Sect. 4). In addition, the holder of information is obliged to immediately disclose any
information concerning any threats to life, health, private property or environment by
choosing the fastest and most appropriate way to avoid danger and mitigate its potential
consequences (Art. 30 Sect. 3).
21
http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/tekst.asp?loc=text&dok=X40095K5&keel=en
&pg=1&ptyyp=RT&tyyp=X&query=avaliku+teabe.
143
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
According to the Public Information Act, state supervision over holders of information
during compliance with requests for information and the disclosure of information is
exercised by the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate, who may initiate supervision
proceedings on the basis of a challenge or on its own initiative (Art. 45 Sect. 1 and 2). A
person whose rights are violated may file a challenge with the Estonian Data Protection
Inspectorate or initiate an action with an administrative court either personally or
through a representative (Art. 46).
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
According to Art. 23 of the Media Services Act, an audiovisual media service provider has
to make its service accessible to people with a visual or hearing disability using for this
purpose, among others, supplying the programme with subtitles, sign language
translation, separate audio channels, teletext and other ancillary services that enable
people with a visual or hearing disability to use the provided service.
In Estonia there is no TV or radio license fee for end-users and no specific right to install
reception devices or any aid schemes to purchase such. In general there are no obstacles
to purchase and install reception devices in so far as these conform with the
requirements and do not create radio interferences.
There is no state subsidy system for the printed press or private broadcasting in Estonia.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
According to Art. 31 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act, the National Broadcasting
has an ethics adviser who monitors the conformity of the operation of National
Broadcasting to the professional ethics and good practices of journalism, reviews the
objections and challenges submitted against the content of a programme or programme
service of National Broadcasting and monitors the balance of the programme service. The
management board of the National Broadcasting appoints the ethics adviser with the
consent of the Council of the National Broadcasting.
The ethics adviser reports on his or her activities to the Council of the National
Broadcasting twice a year and makes proposals on the elimination of deficiencies and
prevention of errors to the management board and the Council of the National
Broadcasting as and when necessary.
The decisions and proposals of the ethics adviser made to the management board of the
National Broadcasting are advisory in nature but the board is required to provide reasons
for non-compliance with such decisions and proposals.
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
According to Art. 29 of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act there is a public advisory
board at the National Broadcasting that has the task to advise the management board of
the National Broadcasting in matters related to the content of programmes and other
media products, and the structure of programme services of the National Broadcasting
and the preparation of the draft development plan of National Broadcasting. The public
advisory board has nine to fifteen members who are appointed by the decision of the
Council of the National Broadcasting on proposal of the management board of the
National Broadcasting for a period of up to five years. Appointment of the members of
144
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
the public advisory board is based on the representation of the interested groups and
walks of life of the society.
No such participation or bodies exist in private media operators.
9.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
As described in the study of 2004 Estonian media market is small and there is a division
between language groups – Estonian and Russian – who have their own media
consumption patterns. Due to the smallness of the market a certain degree of
concentration occurs.
9.2.1.
Radio
According to the chart of activity licenses available from the webpage of the Ministry of
Culture 22 there are 29 private radio programmes - 8 nationwide (all in Estonian
language), 20 regional (13 in Estonian and 7 in Russian language) and 1 international (in
Russian language). There are 18 private radio broadcasters. Among the biggest are
Taevaraadio AS (Sky Media Group owned by a group of Estonian businessmen) operating
6 programmes (2 nationwide and 4 regional) and AS Trio LSL (Trio LSL Radio Group
owned by an Irish media company Communicorp Group Ltd., AS Eesti Meedia (Scibstedt)
and a private person) operating 6 programmes (3 nationwide and 3 regional, two are
operated through subsidiaries), followed by Tartu Pereraadio Ühing (a Christian station)
operating 3 programmes (1 nationwide, 1 regional and 1 international) and AS
Mediainvest (owned by Modern Times Group) operating 2 programmes (1 nationwide and
1 regional). Other private radio broadcasters each operate one programme (1 nationwide
and the rest regional).
The National Broadcasting operates 5 public radio programmes (1 in Russian and 4 in
Estonian; 4 nationwide and 1 regional) 23.
Table 30 EE: Main radio operators
Sky Media Group
Radio Sky Plus, Radio Mania, Raadio 3, Russkoje Radio, Sky Radio,
Russkoje Radio
Trio LSL Group
Raadio Kuku, Raadio Uuno, Raadio Elmar, Spin FM, DFM, Radio 100
FM Narodnoje Radio
Tartu Pereraadio Ühing
Pereraadio, Semeinoje Radio, Radio Eli
Modern Times Group
Star FM, Power Hit Radio
National Broadcasting
Vikerraadio, Klassikaraadio, Raadio 2, Raadio 4, Raadio Tallinn
Programmes of the public radio air across nationwide coverage areas delineated by law
while private stations are limited to semi-national coverage areas provided by ‘regional’
licenses. All radio stations broadcast terrestrially; most of them have a parallel stream
running on the Internet. Digital radio has not been implemented and probably shall not
be in the probable future. 24
22
23
24
http://www.kul.ee/index.php?path=0x2x60x86.
http://www.err.ee/files/ERR_struktuur_01.01.2012.pdf.
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
145
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
According to the survey of TNS Emor in the summer of 2010 the average Estonian listens
to radio 4 hours and 1 minute per day. Estonians are more eager radio-listeners (4 hours
12 minutes) than non-Estonians (3 hours and 38 minutes).
146
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 31 EE: Radio stations (Estonian-speaking) audience share/week
TOP 10 Estonian language radio stations in June-July 2010
Listeners per week
No
Station
Listeners
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Listeners (%)
Vikerraadio
320 000
29.7
Sky Plus
308 000
28.6
Raadio Elmar
274 000
25.4
Star FM
219 000
20.3
Raadio Uuno
140 000
13.0
Raadio Kuku
116 000
10.8
Raadio 2
114 000
10.5
Raadio 3
112 000
10.4
Power Hit Radio
106 000
9.8
55 000
5.1
Klassikaraadio
Table 32 EE: Radio stations (Russian-speaking) audience share/week
TOP 5 Russian language radio stations in June-July 2010 (Listeners per week)
No Station
Listeners
Listeners (%)
1
Raadio 4
188 000
17.5
2
Russkoje Radio
186 000
17.2
3
Sky Raadio
158 000
14.7
4
Narodnoje Radio/100FM
111 000
10.3
5
Euro FM
38 000
3.6
9.2.2.
Television
According to the chart of activity licenses available from the webpage of the Ministry of
Culture 25 there are 2 private nationwide free access television channels and 10 private
nationwide conditional access television channels. There are 9 private TV broadcasters.
The biggest are AS Kanal 2 (owned by Schibsted) operating 3 channels (1 free access
channel and 2 conditional access channels) and AS TV 3 (owned by Modern Times Group)
operating 2 channels (1 free access channel and 1 conditional access channel). The rest
of the private TV broadcasters each operate one conditional access channel.
The National Broadcasting operates 2 nationwide channels.
25
http://www.kul.ee/index.php?path=0x2x60x86.
147
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 33 EE:Main television companies
AS Kanal 2 (Schibsted)
Kanal 2, Kanal 11, Kanal 12
AS TV 3 (Modern Times Group)
TV 3, TV 6
National Broadcasting
ETV, ETV2
According to TNS Emor, the economic crisis influenced the Estonian media market hard in
2009 and in the 1st quarter of 2010. The TV advertising revenues decreased in 2009 by
31% compared to 2008 and by an additional 12% in the 1st quarter of 2010. Four
channels ceased transmission in 2009: Neljas, Elion TV, Kalev Sport (also known as TV4)
and MTV Estonia. In 2009 a new channel TV 14 was launched (which however does not
exist anymore) and in May 2010 local channel Tallinn TV.
According to TNS Emor in March 2012 the average resident watched TV for 4 hours and
10 minutes per day. Non-Estonians appeared to be more eager TV watchers (4 hours and
34 minutes) than Estonians (3 hours and 59 minutes). Estonians watched ETV (24.4%),
Kanal 2 (23.0%) and TV3 (17.9%) and non-Estonians PBK (23.7%), NTV Mir (12.5%)
and RTR Planeta (9.0%) (none of these are Estonian licensed channels). 26 Thus,
Estonians prefer domestic programmes while Russian speakers like those broadcast from
Russia. Channels from the Russian Federation (as well as other pan-European satellite
channels) can be watched on cable networks 27.
Table 34 EE: Daily audience share in percent from total viewing time
Channel
ETV
Kanal 2
TV3
Kanal 11
PBK
RTR Planeta
Video watching
NTV Mir
Seitse
TV6
ETV 2
3+
Ren TV Estonia
Fox Crime
Fox Life
National Geographics
Sony Entertainment TV
Kanal 12
Tallinna TV
CTC
Other channels
26
27
III
17,5
15,8
11,4
2
10,7
3,8
2,2
4,5
0,2
1,9
2,5
2,7
2,7
0,9
0,8
0,4
0,6
19,4
XI
XII
2011
14,6
17,2
12,8
2
10,6
3,6
2,4
4,4
0,2
2
2,9
3,2
1,9
0,8
1
0,2
0,6
1,1
0,2
18,2
I
15,2
15,8
13,4
1,9
10
2,7
2,9
4,3
0,2
1,7
2,9
3
2
0,8
0,9
0,3
0,6
1,3
0,4
0,4
19,4
http://www.emor.ee/teleauditooriumi-ulevaade-martsikuus-2012/.
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
148
II
16,1
14,3
12
2
8,6
3,7
2,8
4,5
0,2
2,2
3,2
3,1
2,2
0,8
0,9
0,3
0,6
1,2
0,4
0,4
20,5
III
2012
18,1
14,2
11,1
1,7
8,8
3,2
2,5
5
0,2
2,4
2,7
3,1
2,3
1
1
0,3
16,7
15,8
12,3
1,5
8,7
3,3
2,5
5,2
0,3
2,4
2,6
2,6
2,3
0,9
1
0,3
1,3
0,3
0,5
20,3
1,2
0,3
0,5
19,7
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
9.2.3.
Press and Publishing
Although the market is small, there is a great variety of newspapers and magazines about 70 different newspapers (40 of which are members of the Estonian Newspaper
Association), among which are 6 large dailies and 10 larger weeklies, over 20 local
newspapers and up to 80 magazines 28.
According to TSN Emor’s survey in early spring 2012 29, there are 99 newspapers and
magazines in total on the Estonian market. At least one of them is read by 572 000
people or 81.3% of the Estonians in the age group of 15-74. As an average Estonian
reads 3 different newspapers and 2.8 magazines. 30
There are five daily newspapers and a number of weekly papers and regional
newspapers. The biggest publishers of newspapers are Bonnier Group, Schibsted and
Ekspress Group:
Table 35 EE: Newspaper publishers and titles
Bonnier Group
Äripäev, Delovõje Vedomosti
Schibsted (via Eesti Meedia AS)
Postimees, Õhtuleht (50%), 5 regional newspapers
Ekspress Group
Ajalehed)
(via
AS
Eesti Eesti Ekspress, Eesti Päevaleht, Maaleht, Õhtuleht
(50 %)
According to the statistics available from the Estonian Newspapers’ Association the
Estonian newspaper industry sales and advertising revenues in 2010 were the following
(based on the data of its 41 member papers):
Table 36 EE: The Estonian newspaper industry sales and advertising revenues in
2010
Sales revenues
(000 EEK)
Advertising
revenue
(000 EEK)
Advertising revenue
shares
National
dailies
(Eesti
Päevaleht, Postimees, Õhtuleht,
Äripäev,
Russian
language
Postimees)
429 000
145 000
34%
Regional papers (including 22
papers)
135 000
58 000
43%
National
weeklies
(Eesti
Ekspress, Maaleht, MK-Estonia,
Eesti Kirik, Õpetajate Leht,
Delovõje Vedomosti, Den za
Dnjom, Komsomlskaja Pravda
P-E, Vestnik ZOZ)
140 000
62 000
44%
15 000
13 000
87%
719 000
278 000
39%
Free papers
Total (all newspapers)
28
29
30
http://www.asn.org.ee/english/legal_background.html.
http://www.emor.ee/99-trukimeedia-valjaannet-varakevadel-2012/.
http://www.emor.ee/eestlased-loevad-ligi-6-erinevat-valjaannet-vaid-veerand-neist-on-tellitud/.
149
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
According to the statistics available from the Estonian Newspapers’ Association, in March
2012 the average number of printed copies of member newspapers (based on
information of printing houses, in thousands, in alphabetic order):
Table 37 EE: The average number of printed copies of newspapers
NATIONAL DAILIES REGIONAL PAPERS
NATIONAL
WEEKLIES
Delovője
Vedomosti
Eesti Päevaleht 27,1
Elva Postipoiss
1,5
Postimees
58,2
Harju Elu
3,8 Den za Dnjom 12,3
Postimees
(venekeelne)
10,3
Hiiu Leht
Õhtuleht
54,0
Hiiu Nädal
Äripäev
11,8
Järva Teataja
Lääne Elu
Meie Maa
Narva
(Nädaline)
Raplamaa
Sõnumid
Pőhjarannik/
Sev.Poberezhje
Pärnu Postimees
Saarte Hääl
Sakala
Sőnumitooja
Valgamaalane
Vali Uudised
Virumaa Teataja
Viru Prospekt
Vooremaa
Vőrumaa Teataja
4,2
FREE PAPERS
Severnoje
65,8
Poberežje Ekstra
Sillamjaeski
3,0
Vestnik
Tallinna
2,8 Eesti Ekspress 30,4
32,5
Linnaleht
Tallinna
1,0 Eesti Kirik
2,1
Linnaleht
vene 27,0
keeles
Komsomolskaj
4,3
11,0 Tartu Ekspress 20,0
a Pravda Baltia
Tartu-Pärnu
3,7 Maaleht
43,9
25,5
Linnaleht
7,3 MK-Estonia
12,3
11,0 Vestnik ZOZ
13,0
3,0 Õpetajate Leht 2,9
6,6
13,0
4,6
9,2
1,8
2,9
2,0
6,8
5,3
2,5
4,1
According to TSN Emor the most read newspapers are dailies Postimees and Õhtuleht
with respectively 194,000 and 143,000 readers and the weekly Maaleht with 125,000
readers 31.
9.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
As of the end of 2011 71% of households have Internet connection in Estonia (in 2006 –
46%). 32 Thus the rate of computerization and Internet penetration in Estonia is
comparatively high.
The biggest, thriving and influential news portal is Delfi.ee, operated by the Ekspress
Group. This portal produces along with references to other media sources some original
content (including video and podcast) with the emphasis on headlines and the
opportunity to comment on the news. Comment sections have invoked several debates
31
32
http://www.emor.ee/99-trukimeedia-valjaannet-varakevadel-2012/.
http://uudised.err.ee/?06241093.
150
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
and court cases about the liability of the media owner for the comments left by the
visitors. Delfi.ee runs also a portal in the Russian language. The company has affiliations
with other Baltic states and Ukraine 33.
Most Estonian-language newspapers have free online versions, the contents of the two
versions are somewhat different. The National Broadcasting also runs an online news
portal that often serves as an agency source for radio stations, as does the Baltic News
Service and dailies’ online versions. The National Broadcasting, as well as Kanal 2 and TV
3, make available their television programmes on demand. Most terrestrial radio
programmes can be listened online and the National Broadcasting, Radio Kuku (a talk
station run by the Trio LSL Group) and some other radio stations make their talk
programmes available as on-demand archives34.
9.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
According to the Annual Report of the Estonian Competition Board of 2010 35 there were
15 cable network service (incl. IPTV service) on the market. The biggest were Starman,
STV ja Elion. Compared to 2009 the number of end-users increased by 5.3% (by approx.
17,000 end-users). Availability of IPTV service has been mostly expanded by Elion.
9.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
According to TSN Emor in 2011 36 the turnover of media advertising market was 72.24
million EUR. The overall increase of turnover when compared to 2010 was 9.4%. Most of
the increase can be attributed to internet and outdoor media advertising (respectively
16% and 15%), but also magazine, radio and television advertising turnover increased
more than average. The smallest increase was in newspaper sector (4%).
Table 38 EE: Estonian media advertising market shares in 2011
Newspapers
Magazines
Television
Radio
Outdoor media
Internet
Total
9.3.
19,76
4,62
22,86
7,16
6,62
11,22
72,24
27,3%
6,4%
31,7%
9,9%
9,2%
15,5%
100,0%
4,3%
11,1%
8,5%
10,7%
15,2%
16,0%
9,4%
Conclusion and Recommendations
From the legislative point of view, Estonia offers a rather liberal environment for the
media. There is no universal “media law,” which would set forth similar principles for
both print media and broadcasters. While private broadcasters and National Broadcasting
is regulated by specific laws, print media issues are covered by general laws and selfregulation, which sometimes results in “gray” unregulated areas. At the moment there
does not appear to be any initiatives to introduce print media regulation or a universal
“media law.” However, in light of the increased awareness of privacy issues by the
readers, as well as the developments of technology, it would be recommendable to
33
34
35
36
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/estonia/.
http://www.konkurentsiamet.ee/public/Aastaraamat/AASTARAAMAT_2010.pdf.
http://www.emor.ee/eesti-meediareklaamiturg-kasvas-ligi-9/?utm_source=
feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20TnsEmorMeediauuringud%20(TNS%20Emor:%
20Meediauuringud)&utm_content=FeedBurner.
151
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
initiate also regulation of print media, specifically in matters concerning professional
ethics and observance of the Code of Ethics of journalists to all print media, including
tabloids.
There also remains in focal point the issue of concentration, the inevitability of which
could be explained by the smallness of the market and lack of investment and other
resources, as well as economic downturn period. Although the Media Services Act sets
forth that activity license is not issued in case this would result in cross media ownership,
the situation where cross media ownership emerges during the validity period of the
license is not regulated. Therefore further concentrations are possible. In order to
prevent cross-media ownership, it would be recommendable to address in legislation also
the issue of emerging of cross-media ownership during the license validity period. Since
print media is not regulated at all, but concentration occurs also in this sphere, it would
be recommendable to address also print media cross-ownership situations.
With recent court cases, the issue of who is responsible for user created online content
has emerged. Also, the public debates heavily on when publication of personal data is in
public interest and when a person becomes a public figure. The latter is largely due to a
recent ruling of a court of first instance adjudicating a compensation of moral damage in
the amount of 10,000 EUR from a tabloid Kroonika to a popular song contest TV show
participant. In light of the said court ruling, a lot more court cases like this are likely to
be initiated. The mentioned court case has also raised a question whether tabloids are
bound by the Code of Ethics of journalists.
Another recently emerged issue is the alleged breach of the National Broadcasting of its
prohibition to transmit advertising. Namely, the private TV broadcasters have complained
to the Council of Broadcasting (the highest body of the National Broadcasting) that the
National Broadcasting interprets the rules on allowed advertising too widely and thus
attempts to take a share of advertising revenues that would otherwise go the private TV
broadcasters. Thus, the future may see a change of regulation of the allowed advertising
by the National Broadcasting.
152
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
10.
FINLAND
10.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
10.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The Constitution of Finland includes Section 12 entitled “Freedom of expression and right
of access to information” (in force since 2000, paragraph 1 quoted in the national report
of 2004). 1
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
The Constitution contains no specific safeguards and rights for the media. These are,
however, included in the Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in the Mass Media
(460/2003, quoted in the national report of 2004). 2
 Freedom to receive and to access information
- Specific rights for the citizens
The openness of government activities was established in the Constitution as paragraph
2 of above-mentioned Section 12 (quoted in the national report of 2004).
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Constitution contains no specific provisions on regulatory authorities regarding media
and communication. These are established as part of State administration, mainly under
the Ministry of Transport and Communications, including the Finnish Regulatory Authority
(FICORA). 3
 Safeguards on “universal service”
The Constitution contains no specific provisions on universal service in media and
communication.
1
2
3
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1999/en19990731.pdf.
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2003/en20030460.pdf.
http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/communications_policy.
153
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
10.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
Commercial broadcasters are granted operating licences from the Government for a
maximum period of 10 years. This is done on the basis of the Act on Television and Radio
Operations (744/1998). 4
Online services do not need licences but can be operated as extensions of periodic
publications, broadcasters or other legal persons. An online service, called in the abovementioned Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media (460/2003)
“network publication”, is defined as “a set of network messages, arranged into a
coherent whole comparable to a periodical, from material produced or processed by the
publisher, and intended to be issued regularly”. Network publications are required to
designate a responsible editor, like all periodical publishers and broadcasters. There is no
obligation to name a responsible editor for websites maintained by private individuals,
nor portals and chat groups; however, these are subject to the Penal Code and the Tort
Liability Act.
The remit of public service media is defined in the Act on Yleisradio Oy (1380/1993) 5, the
Finnish Broadcasting Company known also as YLE. Section 7 of the Act, slightly revised in
2012, reads as follows:
“The company shall be responsible for the provision of versatile and comprehensive
television and radio programming with the related additional and extra services for all
citizens under equal conditions. These and other content services relating to public
service may be provided in general telecommunications networks on national and
regional levels.
The public service programming shall in particular:
4
5
1)
support democracy and everyone’s opportunity to participate by providing a wide
variety of information, opinions and debates as well as opportunities to interact;
2)
produce, create, develop and preserve Finnish culture, art and inspiring
entertainment;
3)
take educational and equality aspects into consideration in the programmes,
provide an opportunity to learn and study, give focus on programming for
children and adolescents, and offer devotional programmes;
4)
treat in its broadcasting Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking citizens on
equal grounds and produce services in the Sámi, Romany, and sign languages as
well as, where applicable, in the languages of other language groups in the
country;
5)
support tolerance and multiculturalism and provide programming for minority
and special groups;
6)
promote cultural interaction and provide programming directed abroad; and
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1998/en19980744.pdf.
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1993/en19931380.pdf.
154
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
7)
broadcast official announcements, for which further provision shall be issued by
decree, and make provision for television and radio broadcasting in exceptional
circumstances.”
Print publications do not need licences but if issued regularly as periodicals they need to
designate a responsible editor.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
There are no anti-concentration rules for the media and the general competition rules are
expected to govern also the media field. Relevant legislation is provided by the
Communications Market Act (393/2003) 6, as described in the 2004 study.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The main framework is provided by the Act on Yleisradio Oy. The supreme body of the
Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) is the Administrative Council, appointed by
Parliament, which decides the economic and operational guidelines and oversees and
supervises how the tasks involving public service programme activities are carried out.
The Administrative Council also appoints the board of directors and decides on issues
concerning considerable restriction or expansion of the activities.
YLE’s programme service output is planned in an extensive and detailed process. The
plans are brought to the central management to be analysed as a whole and, where
necessary, revised. The proposition is then brought to the Executive Board by the
Director General to be approved on an overall strategic level as the basis for the planning
of operations. The Board decides the budget for the following year.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
There have been no essential changes since the national report of 2004.
The licences granted by the Government for television and radio operations are
monitored by FICORA, which is responsible for the compliance with the licence terms.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Finland joined the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1989 and had to
bring national legislation into line with its spirit. The existing legislation concerning
protection of the freedom of expression was regarded adequate and did not need
alterations. However, the implementation of the principles of human rights in Finnish
court practice has been problematic.
Finnish courts interpret the issues of freedom of expression more narrowly, applying the
reduced level of privacy protection only to high-ranking public persons. For instance,
private people as participants of public incidents do not belong to this category, even if
the information about them would be important for the public and the public interest
could be predicted.
6
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2003/en20030393.pdf.
155
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In Finnish society and culture, privacy is highly valued and violation of somebody’s
privacy by the media is a sensitive issue. It has been a general baseline in Finnish courts
that private information should not be published without the approval of the person
concerned. When judging cases where the freedom of speech and right for privacy are in
conflict, the courts emphasise the legality of issues published and do not sufficiently
consider the public importance aspect. It is relatively safe to pronounce sentence when
the essential elements of the offence have been identified and ignore the freedom of
speech and public interest arguments. Hence the problems with keeping Finnish court
practice in line with the ECHR principles. During the past decade (2000-2011) the ECtHR
has issued 24 Finnish judgments (12 of them during 2010-2011) related to freedom of
expression, nine of them concerning the media. In seven cases out of nine, Finland was
convicted for favouring protection of privacy and dignity at the expense of the freedom of
expression.
In 2010, the Ministry of Justice commissioned an expert study comparing legislation and
court practice concerning the freedom of speech, protection of personal privacy and
dignity in Finland, Sweden, Norway and The Netherlands. According to the report, Finnish
legislation is not more restrictive than the legislation in the compared countries. After
analysing the freedom of speech related convictions, the report concluded that the laws
could have helped to solve the cases in favour of the freedom of speech. The problem,
however, is the interpretation of the laws by Finnish courts that tend to rely too much on
precedent and do not give sufficient consideration to the practices and interpretations of
the ECtHR. The report also emphasises that the precedents used by the courts too often
come from the 1970s, when the interpretation of the freedom of speech was much
narrower and the precedents of the ECtHR had yet to occur. According to the judge of
the ECtHR from Finland, Päivi Hirvelä, Finnish judges trust that the balance between the
freedom of expression and personal privacy has been sufficiently deliberated during the
national legislation process. In several Finnish cases, reasons to interference in media
freedom have been significant but not sufficient according to the ECtHR. The aspect of
the freedom of expression has often been completely missed out in the courts’ reasoning
even when the social importance of the case has been obvious and it should have been
taken into consideration.
For achieving better harmonisation with the principles of the ECHR, the Supreme Court of
Finland has started to justify its rulings more carefully and to deliberate the freedom of
speech aspect more properly. For example, the practice of regarding highly critical valueladen expressions intended for raising public discussion, as expressions that require
factual proof, is gradually changing in favour of the freedom of expression.
A specific right to reply and right to correction is established in the Act on the Exercise of
Freedom of Expression in Mass Media (460/2003).
- Specific positive content obligations
The above-quoted remit of public service broadcasting includes several provisions,
notably regarding languages, which serve as positive content obligations. In its
broadcasting YLE must treat Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking citizens equally and
produce services in the Sámi, Romany, and sign languages as well as, where applicable,
in the languages of other language groups in the country.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
No funding schemes exist for specifically desired content. In a broader context, the
funding on public service broadcasting, to be reformed from the beginning of 2013 by an
156
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
“YLE tax”, 7 can be seen as a general funding scheme for fulfilling the public service remit
as determined by law. Similarly, financial support of the Finnish Film Foundation can be
seen as a general funding scheme for film and independent television programme
production for all companies.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Political advertising before elections is permitted and widely used in the press as well as
commercial radio and television services. The public service broadcaster YLE does not
have advertising but a lot of programmes during election campaigns, with an obligation
to treat different parties and candidates impartially and equally. Commercial
broadcasters have also election programmes apart from political advertising.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The Council for Mass Media (CMM) 8 deems not only the media-produced content but also
the consumer-produced content to be subject to journalistic self-regulation, and clearly
distinguishes between editorial and non-editorial content. The respective amendment to
the Guidelines of Journalists came into force in the beginning of 2011. The Guidelines
stipulate that certain fundamental principles concern public discussions even if they do
not contain editorial material and regardless of whether they are moderated before or
after publishing. The Guidelines oblige the news media organisations to impede
publication of the materials that violate personal privacy or offend human integrity and to
immediately remove them if they appear on their web sites. The main purpose of the
new amendment is to confirm trustfulness and responsibility of the media regardless of
their format and publishing platform. Leaving consumer-produced content outside the
publisher’s responsibility may undermine the principle of media responsibility, according
to the CMM. Websites produced for children and youngsters should be supervised with a
special care.
Pressure on the CMM comes sometimes from inside the media. For example, in a case in
2011, a number of newspaper editors-in-chief criticized the CMM for dismissing a
complaint concerning a YLE broadcast. Their concern appeared to be that the decision,
favourable to the media, could have damaged the trustworthiness of the CMM among the
public. As a result of this case and accompanying criticism, amendments were made to
the Guidelines for Journalists: if an anonymous source has been used in a story of high
public interest and societal importance, and causing negative publicity, the news
organisationis supposed to demonstrate how the reliability of the source has been
verified. 9
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
FICORA monitors advertising, sponsorship and product placement in television and radio
operations and it also handles customer complaints made in the framework of the Act on
Television and Radio Operations.
7
8
9
http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/topical/pressreleases/-/view/1280788.
http://www.jsn.fi/en/Council_for_Mass_Media/the-council-for-mass-media-in-finland/.
http://www.jsn.fi/en/complain_instructions/, section 14.
157
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
Frequencies are allocated by the Government in accordance with the needs defined. This
is done through a frequency allocation plan issued as a decree. The legal basis is the
following:
Telecommunications radio networks and digital television and (sound) radio distribution
networks are both regulated by the Communications Market Act (393/2003).
As far as digital broadcasting is concerned, there are separate network operating licences
and programme operating licences. The network operating licences are regulated by this
Act, and the programme operating licences by the Act on Television and Radio
Operations (744/1998).
The holders of network operating licences are obliged to provide the distribution capacity
needed by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and the holders of programme
operating licences.
The Act on Radio Frequencies and Telecommunications Equipment (1015/2001) 10 is
intended to promote efficient, interference-free and non-discriminatory use of the
spectrum. Based on this Act the Government issues decrees whereby specific frequencies
are allocated to analogue and digital television and radio networks and mobile
telecommunications networks (GSM, UMTS, DVB-H).
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
The Act of Television and Radio Operations (744/1998) sets out in Section 10 the
conditions for granting a licence to “aim at promoting freedom of speech as well as
safeguarding the diversity of the provision of programmes as well as the needs of special
groups of the public”.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
This is governed in Section 134 of the Communications Market Act (393/2003) as
follows:
1)
A telecommunications operator providing a network service in a cable television
network has an obligation to transmit the following in the network without charge:
-
public service television and radio programmes that are receivable in the
municipality in which the network is located;
-
ancillary and supplementary services related to these programmes;
-
freely receivable television and radio programmes that are in the public interest and
broadcast by virtue of a national programming licence, and that shall be
accompanied by an audio-subtitling and subtitling service;
10
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2001/en20011015.pdf.
158
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
-
freely receivable material supplied for a particular item in a programme referred to
in paragraph 3, advertisements included in the programmes, and ancillary and
supplementary services related to the programmes.
2)
The transmission obligation referred to in subsection 1 above also applies to a
telecommunications operator providing a network service in a cable television
network, using other than traditional cable television technology in the transmission
of programming, provided that the reception of the programming is possible with
conventional reception equipment.
3)
However, a telecommunications operator has no transmission obligation if the cable
television network capacity is for the operator’s use in its television or radio
operations or if it is necessary for this purpose in order to meet a reasonable future
need of the operator. In fulfilling its transmission obligation, a telecommunications
operator need not make any improvements in network capacity that would require
significant financial investments.
4) The programmes and associated services referred to in subsection 1 shall be provided
to users free of charge. However, a telecommunications operator providing a network
service in a cable television network may require users to pay a reasonable fee for
maintenance of the network.
5) The programmes and services referred to in subsection 1 above shall be provided to
users unmodified and simultaneously with the original broadcast.
- Role of platform operators
Cable and satellite operations are not subject to special laws beyond general regulation
of enterprise and technical conditions. Multiplex operators are granted a licence by the
Government for terrestrial mass communication with terms determined by the
Communications Market Act (393/2003).
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
FICORA monitors the licence holders and, if needed, takes steps to enforcement and
sanctions in accordance with the law.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The ownership situation of all media companies is transparent in principle, but there is no
central database easily accessible. Major media companies listed in Helsinki stock
exchange have their ownership details filed there, while other media companies can be
found in the Finnish Trade Register, an open register covering all businesses. Television
and radio companies have also their ownership situation documented in licence
applications which are under public domain.
- Accountability of public service media
The Act on Yleisradio Oy requires YLE to submit a report to the Finnish Communications
Regulatory Authority (FICORA) on the public service broadcasting provided during the
previous calendar year. FICORA shall issue a statement to Government about the report
159
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
by the end of September. These reports do not aim to measure the qualitative
performance but rather the legality of YLE’s public service operations.
In relation to the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), the Administrative Council (AC) is
ultimately accountable to Parliament: submitting a report every second year on the
implementation of the public service and on the fulfilment of its own supervisory
obligations. This report can be seen as a qualitative evaluation of public service
broadcasting. On the basis of this report there is a discussion in Parliament. According to
recent amendments to the Act on Yleisradio Oy, coming into force in 2013, the public
service function of YLE will be better secured. The AC will be required to evaluate in
advance the public service nature and possible market impact of significant new YLE
services and products. An official in the Parliament’s Transport and Communications
Committee will prepare and present the pre-evaluation to AC. Reports to Parliament will
from this date be submitted annually.
- Freedom of information laws
Finland, among the other Nordic countries, has a long tradition of guaranteeing public
accessibility to official documents by legislation. The national FOIA, Act on Openness of
Government Activities (621/1999) 11, sets the principle that official documents shall be in
the public domain unless there is a specific reason for withholding them. The
transparency of government regards activities of authorities and not only documents
they possess. Therefore, authorities have certain informing requirements. The intention
of the Act is to promote openness and good practice on information management in
government, and provide private individuals and corporations with an opportunity to
monitor the exercise of public authority and the use of public resources, to freely form an
opinion, to influence the exercise of public authority and protect their rights and
interests.
The application of the Act is very broad: in addition to public authorities it also applies to
private bodies that exercise public authority: in addition to general authorities as state
administrative and municipal authorities, state agencies and institutions, the Act applies
also to corporations, institutions, foundations and private individuals appointed for the
performance of a public task on the basis of the Act. The public right to access refers to
the information of official documents regardless of their form. The document may be in a
paper or electronic format, a micro film, a register entry or a collection of entries, a voice
recording, etc. The Act applies to both documents in the possession of an authority and
to documents prepared by an authority or delivered to an authority.
According to the Act, access to documents is the main principle, while secrecy is an
exception. Access may thus not be restricted without a lawful reason, or more than
necessary for the interest that is being protected. The Finnish FOIA consists of 32
categories of secret documents that are exempted from release according to a variety of
potential harm tests depending on the type of information. Documents are kept secret for
25 years unless otherwise provided by the law, with the exception of personal
information which must be kept secret for 50 years after the death of the individual. If
the release would “obviously cause significant harm to the interests protected”, the
Government can extend the classification for another thirty years.
Access is limited to non-official documents which may not be archived, such as private
notes and documents of the internal activity of an authority. Documents which contain
information on decision-making must be stored. Preparatory documents are to be
11
http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1999/en19990621.pdf.
160
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
entered into the public domain at the time of any decisions, if not earlier. If a document
contains only partially secret information, access must be granted to the public part of it,
by covering the parts to be kept secret in a document. If necessary, an authority
possessing the document is required to make this kind of distinction. Information seekers
are not required to provide reasons for their request or to verify their identity unless they
are requesting personal or otherwise secret information. Responses to requests must be
made within 14 days. In cases where the information requested is withhold, authorities
are required to give written refusals containing the reasons for the refusal and including
guidelines to appeal. Appeal to a decision made by an authority is usually made to an
administrative court.
In addition to answering document requests, authorities are under the obligation to
promote access and to assist those requesting information to find it without knowing its
location. Moreover, they are required to produce and disseminate information on their
services and practices, as well as on the social conditions and developments in their field
of competence. Authorities are obliged to produce sets of data on request. Computer
systems must be planned to ensure easy access to information. Releasing the
information requested need not be free of charge. Authorities have the right to charge
reasonable printing expenses (cost prices) of the paper documents delivered to
information seekers.
However, in spite of legislative possibilities, several technical and other kinds of
restrictions have been found for the access of information. Problems partly arise from
inconsistent legal interpretations of public and non-public issues, partly from the negative
attitudes of the authorities providing information requested and partly from uninformed
journalists and hectic journalism practices not giving time to apply for documents or to
complain if they are not turned over. The amount of information requested may be too
vast or the documents may only be partially public, and separating the public part from
the secret would be too difficult. Moreover, according to the authorities, they do not have
enough time to look for the information, or the format of the information is problematic
for access or the archives are not organised enough to find the information requested.
When authorities are uncertain whether the information is public or not, they usually
refuse to provide access, just to be on the safe side
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
Based on the earlier National Broadband Strategy of the Ministry of Transport and
Communications, initiatives were taken to declare the Internet connection of minimum 1
Mbits/s as a universal service obligation (USO) in Finland. The provision was adopted as
official Government policy in 2008.
The USO in broadband connections would certainly mean a major leap forward for
Finland. However, there is also a major problem: Finland’s geographic area is large, and
the population is small (ca. 5.5 million inhabitants). To build up a high-speed network
that would reach every corner of the country would be extremely expensive and
commercially risky. To resolve this dilemma, and counter to the Ministry’s previous
broadband strategy, which was based on the virtuosity of the market, the Ministry now
has had to bow to the necessity of State aid: “The Finnish state will contribute to the
financing of the Broadband Programme. Public aid will cover 67 per cent of the
investments at most, with the Government contribution amounting to a maximum of 33
per cent. Public funding is used when the target levels of the Broadband Programme
cannot be achieved on commercial terms.”
161
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Since the Internet has opened unrestricted opportunities for all kinds of content and
content producers, there is a requirement to prevent dissemination of harmful content
and establish principles of responsibility of online service providers. Gradually, legislation
concerning the content of web sites is being developed in Finland. In the Act on the
Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media (460/2003), the responsibility of
Internet service providers is limited to technical and distributional matters, such as
deleting illegal material after a court decision and revealing technical identification
information during criminal investigation.
In 2011, new amendments to the Penal Code came into force, which specify the
responsibility of web-operators (adminstrators) for the content of their sites. Particularly,
the amendments concern racist and hate speech and dissemination of child pornography.
The operators can be sued according to the article of hostile ethnic agitation of the Penal
Code (39/1889) if they are unwilling to remove the illegal material in their websites even
if they are pointed out of its problematic character. Making child pornographic material
intentionally available can bring about punishment according to the article that concerns
dissemination of sexually obscene pictures.
Regarding public subsidies, no essential changes have been made since the 2004 report,
apart from the above-mentioned reform of financing public service broadcasting by the
“YLE tax” from 2013 on and a VAT reform concerning the printed press. The VAT reform
removed from newspapers and magazines their decades-old exemption not to pay VAT
on subscriptions – subscriptions being among Finns the main form of paying for the press
(paying for individual issues has always included VAT). A 9% VAT was added to
subscriptions from the beginning of 2012, increasing the state tax revenues by an
estimated amount of 90 million euros per year, but raising the cost of press subscriptions
by the same amount as no publishers were prepared to cover the added expense from
other sources. Higher subscription costs will obviously somewhat reduce the press
consumption, which has already suffered from declining readership during the past few
years.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
Complaints about media performance can be lodged, in addition to the above-mentioned
Council for Mass Media, to ombudsmen who are responsible for specific areas such as
consumers, equality, children, and data protection. A couple of newspapers introduced
their own readers’ ombudsmen, but they did not prove sustainable.
The public should be provided with an opportunity to notify about inappropriate contents
and to get a confirmation that their notification has been received.
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
Apart from the self-regulatory body, the Council for Mass Media, there are no established
platforms of media audiences for systematic feedback and participation. Similarly, an
association of listeners and viewers was established for mobilising media criticism and
audience participation of television and radio programmes in the early 2000s, but also
this initiative dried out after a couple of years.
162
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
10.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
The overall picture of Finland’s media landscape remains the same as in the 2004 report,
but essential changes have occurred in details including ownership.
Table 39 presents an overview with a list of top twelve media companies, based on their
financial volume measured in annual turnover. It shows the situation in 2010, with
changes from the previous year and pointing out different media sectors where each
company is operating in 2011.
Table 39 FI: Top twelve media companies by turnover 2010
Turnover
€ million
Change %
2010
2009-10
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Sanoma Oyj
Yleisradio Oy
Alma Media Oyj
Otava Oy
MTV Oy*
TS-Yhtymä Oy
Edita Oy
Keskisuomalainen Oyj
A-lehdet Oy
Pohjois-Karjalan Kirjapaino Oyj
Talentum Oyj
Suomen Lehtiyhtymä Oy
2 761
398
311
223
214 *
213
110
102
91
85
81
67
0
3
1
0
11
-4
-1
4
-2
2
21
-1
Newspapers
Media activities 2011
Magazines
Books
Radio
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
TV
Cab le TV
x
x
(x)
(x)
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Media activities in parentheses indicate minority shares in the sector.
* In addition to MTV Oy, MTV Media group is composed of Sub tv Oy with net revenue € 48 million, and Suomen Uutisradio Oy with net revenue
€ 14 million
Source: Statistics Finland b ased on company annual reports and other company data
By far the largest by turnover is Sanoma company, but over half of its economic
activities are based outside Finland including Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia and
Central and East European countries. Finland accounts for 47% or 1,300 million € of the
company’s net sales – three times the second largest turnover of the public service
broadcaster YLE. Since the national report of 2004, Sanoma has sold its book publishing
branch WSOY (deleting this acronym from its corporate name) to the Swedish Bonnier,
which for its part has acquired full ownership of Finland’s main commercial TV company
MTV. In 2004 MTV was part of the Alma Media company, also including several
newspapers circulated throughout Finland, and Bonnier held 33% of its shares. In 2005 a
new deal was done whereby Alma sold its shares in MTV to Bonnier, leaving Alma a
purely print media company in Finnish ownership. Bonnier’s various media holdings in
Finland add up to 375 million €, making it the third largest player in Finnish media
market. Yet this is only 12% of the total turnover of Bonnier – the largest media
company in Scandinavia. Measured in overall turnover, Sanoma is the second largest
Scandinavian media company.
The total monetary volume of the Finnish media market in 2010 was 4,291 million €. This
corresponds to 2.4% of Finland’s Gross National Product – a share which has consistently
diminished since 1990 when it reached 3.1%. Print media accounted for 64% of the total
in 2010, while electronic media represented 29% and the rest 7% being occupied by
cinema, video and sound recordings. The print media sector has been decreasing since
1980 when its share was 80%, while electronic media sector has been growing
respectively.
163
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
10.2.1.
Radio
As in 2004, Finland’s radio landscape is dominated by the public service broadcaster YLE,
with its four nationwide radio channels in Finnish and two in the official minority language
Swedish. One of each language channels is divided at certain hours to local broadcasts,
providing altogether 26 regional windows. The public service channels capture slightly
over half of the total listening time, while the private, predominantly commercial radio
stations count together nearly half of total audience. Finns listen to radio on the average
about three hours a day, but much of this time is exposure with little concentration.
Table 40 lists the largest private radio networks. All except the last one are national by
their reach, while there are nearly 50 channels of regional or local character, five of them
community-owned.
Table 40 FI: Largest private radio channels and networks 2010
Established
Radio Nova
SBS-Iskelmäradiot
SuomiPOP
Radio Rock
NRJ
The Voice
Radio Aalto
Groove FM
Rondo Classic
Radio Dei
Radio Sputnik
1997
2001
2000
2007
1995
2007
2007
1999
2010
1997
1999
Coverage
% of population
99
92
87
85
87
99
73
62
68
78
28
Market share
% of listening
11
7
5
5
4
3
1
1
..
..
..
Owner
Nationality
Bonnier (74%), MTG (26%)
SBS Broadcasting & al.
Communicorp Group
Sanoma
NRJ
SBS Broadcasting
Sanoma
Communicorp Group
Classicus
Kristillinen Media
Radio Satellite Finland
Sweden
Germany
Ireland
Finland
France
Germany
Finland
Ireland
Finland
Finland
Russia
Sources: Statistics Finland based on Ministry of Transport and Communications, Finnpanel and RadioMedia
10.2.2.
Television
The overall landscape of television in Finland remains otherwise the same as in 2004,
with three major companies providing several channels, except that since 2007
digitalisation has multiplied the number of free channels up to around 20 and pay-TV
channels up to around 30.
Table 41 shows that the public service broadcaster YLE has four terrestrially distributed
channels freely available throughout the country, one of them in Swedish language, while
the commercial broadcasters MTV Media and Nelonen Media offer each three open
channels plus several pay-TV channels.
The YLE channels occupy 45% of the total viewing time, the MTV channels 30%, the
Nelonen channels 15%, and the remaining 10% is divided among smaller Finnish
companies and a number of foreign channels. One of the small commercial channels is
Suomi TV, which changed ownership in early 2012 from a Canadian company to Fox
International – the first entry of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to Finland.
Television viewing among Finns is on the average about three hours a day – less than in
most other comparable countries, although Finland had for several years more television
channels and programme supply than for example other Scandinavian countries.
164
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 41 FI: Top 3 TV companies in Finland and their channels 2011
Company (Owner)
Channel
Financing
Penetration (%)
Distribution Year established
Public service
YLE
YLE TV1
Lic.
100
T/C/S
1958
(State )
YLE TV2
Lic.
100
T/C/S
1956/1965
YLE Teema
Lic.
100
T/C/S
2001
FST5
Lic.
100
T/C/S
2001
The largest private TV groups
MTV Media
MTV3
Comm.
100
T/C/S
1957
(Bonnier)
Sub
Comm.
100
T/C/S
2001
AVA
Comm.
C
2008
MTV3 Max
Sub. & Comm.
100
-
T/C/S
2001/2006
MTV3 Juniori
Sub. & Comm.
100
T/C/S
2006
MTV3 Leffa
Sub. & Comm.
100
T/C/S
2006
MTV3 Fakta
Sub. & Comm.
95
T/C/S
2007
MTV3 Komedia
Sub. & Comm.
-
C
2011
MTV3 Sarja
Sub. & Comm.
-
C
2008
MTV3 Scifi
Sub. & Comm.
-
C
2008
Canal+ (4 - 12 channels)
Sub.
90
T/C/S
2004
Nelonen Media
Nelonen
Comm.
100
T/C/S
1997
(Sanoma)
JIM
Comm.
100
T/C/S
2001/2007
Liv
Comm.
95
T/C/S
2009
KinoTV
Sub.
95
T/C/S
2007
Nelonen Pro1
Sub. & Comm.
90
T/C/S
2001
Nelonen Pro2
Sub. & Comm.
78
T/C/S
2007
Nelonen Perhe
Sub. & Comm.
95
T/C
2011
Nelonen Maailma
Sub. & Comm.
95
T/C
2011
Financing: Lic = Licence fees, Comm = Commercials, Sub = Subscription fees
Penetration: Technical penetration in terrestial networks.
Distribution: T = Terrestial, C = Cable, S = Satellite
Sources: Statistics Finland based on Ministry of Transport and Communications, www.digitv.fi and company webpages
10.2.3.
Press and Publishing
Despite the trend of decreasing financial share of print media sector, it is still dominant
and Finland profiles in international statistics as an exceptionally strong press country.
Finns read newspapers and magazines on the average for about one hour a day – not
only in print copies but increasingly on the screen through the Internet, especially among
the younger generation. Actually the most essential change in Finland’s press sector
since the 2004 report is the growing role of electronic distribution and online media. Yet
print media companies in the production end, and individual readers at the receiving end,
remain more or less unchanged.
Table 42 presents top ten newspaper publishers with the number and circulation of their
titles in 2010. The total number of dailies (published 4–7 times a week) is 49 and their
total circulation exceeds 2 million – nearly 500 copies per thousand inhabitants, which
gives Finland the third place in the world after Japan and Norway. Of the dailies 41 were
published in Finnish and eight in Swedish, the latter representing 5% of the total
circulation – roughly the same as the share of Swedish-speaking population of the
country. In addition to dailies there are about 150 non-daily newspapers (published 1–3
times a week), mostly local by character, but their total circulation is only 30% of total
newspaper press.
165
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 42 FI: Top ten newspaper publishers according to circulation 2010
Publisher
Titles
Dailies
Circulation Share of total Major owner
circulation
(thousands)
(%)
5
5
615
21,3 Erkko family (ca 40%)
Alma Media Oyj
25
10
555
19,2 Ilkka-Yhtymä Oyj (30%)
Keskisuomalainen Oyj
20
4
244
TS-yhtymä Oy
9
2
174
6,0 Ketonen family
Ilkka-Yhtymä Oyj
7
2
104
3,6 No major owner
Sanoma Oyj
8,4 No major owner
Viestilehdet Oy
1
0
83
2,9
Länsi-Savo Oy
11
2
82
2,8
Kaleva Oy
1
1
78
2,7
Pohjois-Karjalan Kirjapaino Oyj
7
1
77
2,7
Suomen Lehtiyhtymä Oy
Top 10
All newspapers
6
4
76
2,6
92
31
2 088
68,1
194
49
2 886
100
Sources: Statistics Finland based on Finnish Audit Bureau of Circulations and Finnish Newspapers Association
While Finland’s newspaper press is quite abundant, it is relatively concentrated. There
are few towns where more than one daily newspaper is published, and the traditional
variety of politically-affiliated newspapers has practically disappeared outside the capital
Helsinki. Two leading publishers occupy over half of the total daily newspaper circulation
in the country: Sanoma 31% and Alma Media 23% (in 2010).
Table 43 presents the largest periodical press publishers of consumer magazines. The
first three are in Finnish ownership, representing about two thirds of the total circulation,
while the rest have significant foreign owners. Consumer magazines of general interest in
popular social issues (women, fashion, cars, travel, etc.) constitute 38% of the total
volume of periodical press (measured in copies distributed in 2010), the rest being
magazines of various associations and professional interests (46%), customer magazines
published by cooperatives, banks, municipalities, etc. (14%), and culture & opinion
magazines (2%).
The total number of periodical press in Finland, counting all published at least four times
a year, is as high as 3,000.
Table 43 FI: Largest publishers of consumer magazines by volume and titles
2010
Publisher
Million
copies
Sanoma
Finland
Magazines
No. of
titles
2010
Major owner
%
49,6
33,0
50
Otavamedia
34,0
22,6
30
A-lehdet
18,3
12,2
12
Aller Media
13,6
9,1
6
Bonnier Publications
3,2
2,2
10
Forma Publishing Group
Valitut
Palat-Reader's
Digest
3,2
2,1
5
2,5
1,7
2
166
Sanoma Oyj (Erkko family ca 40 %)
Otava Oy (Reenpää family & Otava Book
Foundation)
Lyytikäinen family
Aller holding A/S (Aller family)
Bonnier AB (Bonnier family)
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Egmont Kustannus
Other
Total
Source:
10.2.4.
2,4
1,6
23,3
150,2
15,5
100
55
Statistics Finland/Media statistics
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
This is the fastest growing part of
has expanded so that in the 2010s
it covered less than 50%. In 2010
daily basis, 86% at home and 49%
Finland’s media landscape. Internet as infrastructure
it reaches over 80% of the households, while in 2004
three out of four Finns used Internet practically on a
in work place.
Table 44 presents the top twelve online media based on the frequency of their use in
2011. By far the mostly used online media are the web versions of Finland’s two
afternoon papers (tabloid by format and partly by content), followed by the websites of
the leading commercial television company, the leading daily newspaper and the public
service broadcaster. Ten of the twelve online media are extensions of respective
newspapers or television news services, while two are online only.
All Finnish daily newspapers (49 in 2010) have also a web-based version, increasingly
behind a subscription wall. Also most of the non-daily newspapers are online. Of the
periodical press, about 250 titles display themselves online.
Table 44 FI: Top twelve Finnish WWW media pages 2011
Browsers/ Sessions Sessions/ Publisher
week
/week
browser
Iltalehti
Ilta-Sanomat
MTV3
Helsingin
Sanomat
YLE
Taloussanomat
Kauppalehti
Sub.fi
Nelonen.fi
Kaksplus
Aamulehti
Uusi Suomi
17.224.65
2
13.388.41
2.237.153
2
Type of media Ranking
among
websites
5,5
Alma Media
Newspaper
1
4,8
Sanoma
Newspaper
2
1.862.770 9.918.915
4,6
MTV
Media/Bonnier
Television
3
1.399.413 7.091.797
3,6
Sanoma
Newspaper
4
1.251.891 5.902.962
3,6
Yleisradio
683.664 2.100.630
2,5
Sanoma
546.072 2.460.004
3,5
Alma Media
Newspaper
12
439.335 1.882.803
4,0
MTV
Media/Bonnier
Television
18
392.855
846.845
2,0
Sanoma
Television
20
308.374
549.147
1,7
Sanoma
Magazine
22
296.554
953.070
2,5
Alma Media
Newspaper
23
278.138
896.277
2,6
Kustannusosake
Web-only
yhtiö
Uusi
newspaper
Suomi
25
2.442.074
Source: http://www.gallupweb.com/tnsmetrix/site.aspx
167
PBS
TV
radio
Web-only
business
newspaper
and
5
10
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
10.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
Table 45 presents the largest cable television operators in 2010, most of them telephone
companies.
Table 45 FI: Main cable TV network operators including IPTV 2010
Share of connections
%
DNA
41
Elisa
18
Sonera
15
Finnet-liitto
16
Turun Kaapelitelevisio
6
Others
4
Total
100
Total number of connections
1 432 000
Source: Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics FiCom
10.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
Table 46 shows how three out of four Finns are daily exposed to each of the main news
media of press, radio and television. Internet as a new distribution channel is
increasingly used to read newspapers and also to listen to radio and view television. This
explains part of the declining trend of newspaper reach since the mid-1990s – research
methods have not managed to specify various types of Internet use.
Table 46 FI: Daily reach of main media 1992-2010, % of population over 12
years
1992
1994
1996
1998
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
2010
Newspapers
89
87
87
91
86
87
82
81
78
75
Radio
83
85
82
81
81
83
80
79
78
78
Television
69
72
72
71
77
78
75
75
73
74
Internet
..
..
5
14
26
36
46
56
66
72
Source: TNS Gallup
The total daily time which people were exposed to various media in Finland was on the
average eight and a half hours in 2011. It is divided between different media as follows,
in minutes: Television 152, Internet 126, Radio 103, Newspapers 34, Books 33, Sound
recordings 33, Magazines 21, and Video recordings 11. Internet comes here as the
second with two hours of average use per day, but it is not a separate medium like the
others as a substantial part of its use is made up of following other media, especially
newspapers.
As far as advertising is concerned, it constitutes one third of all media revenues, 1,347
million € in 2010.
Table 47 presents the shares of media advertising in different media sectors, counted in
expenditures. Print media occupies 58% of the media advertising total, leaving 20% for
168
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
television and 15% for online media which has rapidly grown to be four times bigger than
the share of commercial radio. Although advertising is nowadays less important a source
of income for the press than it used to be in 2004, it still constitutes around one half of
the income of newspaper companies and about one fourth of the consumer magazine
companies.
Table 47 FI: Shares of media advertising by sector in 2010
%
31,7
Dailies (7-4 times a week)
Non-dailies
4,4
Newspapers total
36,1
Urban and pick-up papers
5,4
Newspapers and free papers total
41,5
Consumer magazines
6,0
Trade & business magazines
4,0
Customer magazines
1,4
Magazines & periodicals total
11,4
Printed directories
5,1
Print media total
58,1
Television
19,8
Radio
3,9
Cinema
0,2
Display and classified web advertising
7,4
Electronic directories and SEM
7,9
Web advertising total
Electronic media advertising total
15,3
39,2
Outdoor/Transport
2,9
Mass media advertising total
100
Sources: Finnish Advertising Council, TNS Gallup Group (Announcements, notices,
column advertisements and public offices are not included in press advertising.)
10.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Finland stands at the top in international comparisons of democracy and press freedom
as shown by surveys such as World Audit 12 and Freedom House 13. Also, the factual map
of Finland’s media landscape looks quite impressive, with an exceptionally abundant
supply of media channels and products.
However, a qualitative look at the content of media production and consumption gives
rise to critical reflection especially regarding the role of media in democratic process.
Despite media abundance, Finnish citizens are exposed to fairly uniform and hegemonic
media culture, which is far from the ideals of freedom and versatility suggested by
theories of democracy. The problem is to a large extent based on market liberalism,
which - while facilitating formal competition and multiplicity - has failed to ensure
pluralism in the social, cultural and political spheres. The problem should not only be
seen in the private commercial sector but also in the public service broadcasting which
12
13
http://www.worldaudit.org/press.htm.
http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/freedom-press-2012.
169
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
has not fully materialized its potential for serving the citizens and democracy. Moreover,
part of the problem is rooted in the citizens themselves, who have not exerted notable
resistance to the commercially dominated media culture.
In this respect it is encouraging that the current Government of Finland is considering to
bringing the concept of public interest as a touchstone of future communication policies.
Here are some recommendations which arise from the Finnish situation with a view to
ensuring media diversity and pluralism:
First, the concentration of the media market should be addressed by legislation and more
systematic media policies, including neglected community radios.
Second, state subsidies should be provided to online newspapers and small circulation
dailies which have proved not to be commercially sustainable.
Third, the concepts of public service media and Internet neutrality should be carefully
defined within the changing media landscape.
The following are some specific recommendations based on the Finnish experience in a
European research project. 14
Media ownership: Public information about ownership of media companies should be
stored in an easily accessible central database on the Internet. This information is an
important part of the transparency of the business, helping the public to evaluate media’s
engagements.
Court practices: More precise account of the European Convention on Human Rights as a
fundamental right in exercising the freedom of expression. Courts should simultaneously
assess citizens' right to information and the significance of the matter in a socially
important public discussion.
Access to information: Training of authorities to answer requests by the public and to
understand the importance of their public role in serving citizens’ needs for information
through the media. Databases should be redesigned for easy access to digital
information.
Journalists’ autonomy: Journalists should have more personal freedom in developing and
realizing their own stories. The scale and viewpoints of a story should be based on the
importance of the issue explored by journalist’s own research and not on editorial
meetings without prior knowledge.
Journalism education: Education of journalists should increase their ability to think
independently and assess critically their own information gathering and content
production. Training runs the risk of concentrating too much on media companies’
immediate interests including applications of new technologies.
In addition, it is important to maintain throughout Europe media statistics, which covers
all media sectors and different aspects from ownership to media use. Statistics Finland
serves as a good example in the area of culture and media. 15
14
15
http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/.
http://www.stat.fi/til/klt_en.html.
170
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
11.
FRANCE
11.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
11.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
Article 34 of the French Constitution, as amended by the reform of 23 July 2008 1, states
as follows: “The law establishes the rules on (…) freedom, pluralism and media
independence.” Therefore, it is the responsibility of the legislator to lay down the rules
concerning both freedom of communication which follows from Article 11 of the 1789
Declaration and pluralism and independence of the media which are of constitutional
value. 2
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The public’s right to information is not expressly embraced by the constitutional
jurisprudence. However, the aspect of freedom of communication arises from the
interpretation by the Constitutional Council and the purpose that has been assigned to it
by the Council: allow viewers, listeners and readers to exercise their free choice. See for
example a recent decision: “The free communication of thoughts and opinions, as
guaranteed by Article 11 of the Declaration of 1789, would not be effective if the users of
audiovisual media do not have programmes, both in the private and in the public sector,
that guarantee the expression of different trends while respecting the need for honest
information. Ultimately, the aim is to realize that listeners and viewers, who are among
the essential recipients of the freedom proclaimed in Article 11, are able to exercise their
free choice without neither private interests nor the government being in the position to
substitute it with their own decisions.” 3
In the absence of formal hierarchy between fundamental rights and freedoms, it is the
responsibility of the legislator under the control of the constitutional court to conciliate.
Freedom of communication is no exception to this rule. It must be reconciled with other
rights and constitutional freedoms, including property rights, and some limits must be
imposed upon it. The decisions of the Constitutional Council on the Hadopi laws I and II
illustrate the reconciliation between copyright and related rights (covered by the law of
property) and right of free internet access (component of freedom of communication)
made by the legislator. The Council controls the proportionality of the object pursued by
the Hadopi laws (the fight against illegal download of music, films and audiovisual works)
and the limitation of constitutional rights (in this case, freedom of access to internet).
The Act on the criminal protection of literary and artistic property on the internet of 28
October 2009, called Hadopi II, 4 sets up a so-called “flexible response” or “three strikes
procedure” meaning a new system of penalties based on the suspension of the internet.
This Act is following the Act No. 2009-669 of 12 June 2009 encouraging the
dissemination and protection of creation on the internet (Hadopi I) which the
1
2
3
4
Constitutional Law No. 2008-724 of 23 July 2008 to modernize the institutions of the Fifth Republic, OJ of
24 July 2008, p. 11890.
Constitutional Council, Decision No. 2009-577 DC of 3 March 2009, OJ of 7 March 2009, p. 4336.
Constitutional Council decision No. 2009-577 DC, 3 March 2009, OJ of 7 March 2009, p. 4336; law on
audiovisual communication the new public service television, cons. 2, Rec. p. 64.
Act No. 2009-1311 of 28 October 2009 on the criminal protection of literary and artistic property on the
internet, OJ 29 October 2009, p. 18, 290.
171
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Constitutional Council has partially censored. Freedom of communication under Article 11
of the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights of 1789 involves “the freedom to access
these communications by the public online.” 5 With this decision the Constitutional Council
recognizes the freedom of internet access as a component of freedom of communication.
Therefore an administrative authority, in this case the commission to protect the rights of
the high authority for the dissemination of works and protection of rights on the
internet, 6 cannot impose sanctions which would restrict or prevent access to the internet
by holders of subscription in order to protect copyright holders.
The “Environmental Charta” of 2004 7 completes the preamble of the Constitution. It
conferred constitutional status to the right of environmental information through its
Article 7 which provides that “everyone has the right (…) to access information relating to
the environment held by public authorities and to participate in the development of public
decisions affecting the environment.” Local authorities and their associations, as well as
state and public institutions, have to ensure this right to information. It includes the right
of access to administrative documents and the right to be informed by public authorities
and it is a prerequisite for the right of participation of the public in the development of
decisions affecting the environment.
However, the public authority has the right to reject a request for information relating to
the environment where the consultation or communication violates certain interests 8
including those covered by Article 6 of the Act of 17 July 1978 introducing various
measures to improve relations between the administration and the public. 9 Finally, the
documents in preparation are generally not accessible.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Constitution of the French Republic does not provide for any special protection for
the status, mandate and powers of regulatory authorities in the fields of audiovisual and
electronic communications.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
The Constitution of the French Republic does not provide any special protection for the
universal services.
11.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
Since 2004, the legal framework for the audiovisual sector has substantially changed
after a series of legislative amendments. However, the main Act, the Act No. 86-1067 of
30 September 1986 on freedom of communication (hereinafter 1986 Act), is still in
5
6
7
8
9
Constitutional Council decision No. 2009-580 DC, 10 June 2009, OJ 13 June 2009, p. 9675.
Haute autorité pour la diffusion des oeuvres et la protection des droits sur internet (HADOPI).
Constitutional Law No. 2005-205 of 1 March 2005 on the Charta of the Environment, OJ of 2 March 2005,
p. 3697.
Art. L. 124-4 of the Environmental Code.
Act No. 78-753 of 17 July 1978 introducing various measures to improve relations between the
administration and the public and various administrative, social and fiscal provisions, OJ of 18 July 1978,
p. 2851 (last amended by Law No. 2011-525 of 17 May 2011).
172
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
force. 10 Since November 2011 (date corresponding to the complete cessation of analogue
terrestrial broadcast) digital terrestrial television (DTT) is the only terrestrial
broadcasting network for audiovisual programmes in France. The law “on the
modernization of audiovisual broadcasting and the future of television” (2007) and the
law on “the fight against the digital divide” (2009) determined when and how the
analogue signal is turned off. 11 Private services which are broadcast by digital terrestrial
signal are subject to an authorization scheme issued by the “Conseil supérieur de
l’Audiovisuel” 12 (CSA) after an invitation to tender.
The legal framework for digital broadcasting has also been adapted in view of the
development of mobile television (“télévision mobile personnelle”, TMP) which is seen as
a “method of broadcasting television services for mobile devices over the air using
spectrum resources mainly dedicated to this purpose and high definition television.” The
TMP is seen as a category of DTT services like high definition services. 13 The legal system
applicable to DTT can be used for TMP with certain specifics on how to finance the service
and programme formats. For now, services are selected by the CSA after the invitation to
tender which is open to producers of services (Article 30-1 of the 1986 Act as amended
by the Act of 5 March 2007). In order to grant authorization, the CSA takes into account
the engagements in volume and the description of the candidate concerning the
production and distribution of the programmes, especially whether there are European
and French audiovisual and cinematographic works, as well as whether the candidate
supplies programmes (especially news) in formats best suited for mobile devices. It also
takes into account its commitments concerning territorial coverage, the quality of the
reception for mobile devices, particularly inside a building, and the largest conditions of
commercialisation of the service for the public. The current legislation does not provide
for a general right to information. However, Article 20-2 of the 1986 Act as amended
establishes the principle of access to "major events" for viewers and thus claims to
guarantee the right of citizens to receive information of general interest.
Section 29 of the 1986 Act provides that the CSA is inviting for tender for geographic
areas and categories of services which it has previously determined and thereby
establishes the main regulatory power available to the CSA in the radio sector. The CSA
uses the option given to it by the law to issue invitations to tender for service categories
by combining different criteria: commercial or not, local or not, general or thematic,
independent or not. To grant permission the CSA takes into account in particular “the
interest of each project for the public with regard to the priority requirements which are
safeguarding pluralism of socio cultural expressions, the diversity of operators and the
need to avoid abuse of a dominant position as well as restraints of trade.” The Council
ensures “that a sufficient part of the frequency resources is allocated to the services
which are produced by an association and which are carrying out a mission of close social
communication meaning the promotion of exchanges between the different social and
cultural groups, favouring the expression of various socio-cultural trends, supporting
local development, the protection of the environment and the fight against social
exclusion.”
10
11
12
13
Act No. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986 on freedom of communication, OJ 1 October 1986, p. 11755 (last
amended by the Act No. 2012-158 of 1 February 2012).
Act No. 2007-309 of 5 March 2007 on the modernization of audiovisual broadcasting and the future of
television, OJ 7 March 2007, p. 4347 (last amended by the Act No. 2009-1572 of 17 March 2009); Act no.
2009-1572 of 17 December 2009 on the fight against the digital divide, OJ 18 December 2009, p. 21825.
Higher Audiovisual Council.
Government report on the application of the last paragraph of V of Article 30-1 of the Act No. 86-1067 of
30 September 1986 on freedom of communication, October 2009.
173
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Radio control is always based on five categories of radio (A to E). However, the new
wording of Article 42-3 of the Act of 30 September 1986, as amended by the Act of 9
July 2004 on electronic communication and audiovisual communication services, gives
the CSA the possibility to authorise a change of ownership along with a change of
category without recourse to the procedure invitation to tender, if necessary.
The Act of 17 January 1989 established the radio technical committees, which are
responsible for examining applications for authorization and for observing the compliance
with their obligations by their holders. Unfortunately, the act did not confer the necessary
power for this task to the committees what gives them a mere advisory role.
There are other broadcast networks (cable, satellite, DSL …). The CSA has also
jurisdiction with regard to Web TV and Web Radio. The regulation is based on the
approval by the CSA (Art. 33-1).
The conventions are applicable to all radio and television services independent of their
method or medium of broadcast provided that they are within French jurisdiction.
However, since the Act of 9 July 2004 14 this is no longer true for services which
broadcast without using frequencies allocated by the CSA and whose annual budget is
less than 75,000 Euro for radio services and 150,000 Euro for television services (prior
declaration system). Furthermore, services, that repeat simultaneously and completely a
public channel or radio, or a channel or radio beneficiary of an authorisation, are not
subject to the convention anymore and need no approval (except the repeat has the
effect that the reach of a local television increases to more than 10 Million inhabitants).
The audiovisual media services on demand 15 (like catch-up TV and TV on demand) are
included in the new definition of audiovisual communication (Section 2 of the 1986 Act as
amended). 16 Nevertheless, certain provisions of the 1986 Act have been adapted,
including those relating to the protection of minors, the use of the French language,
advertisement and promotion of European and French audiovisual and cinematographic
works. 17 Catch-up TV is not subject to the invitation to tender. In contrast, video on
demand by downloading may be authorized on DTT only after a procedure of invitation to
tender.
The Act of 12 June 2009 promoting the dissemination and protection of creation on the
internet 18 supplemented Article 1 of the Act No. 86-897 of 1 August 1986 reforming the
legal system of the press 19 in order to establish a specific legal and economic system for
all online news services regardless of whether they concern websites linked to a product
of the printing press or independent news sites called “pure players”. The decree of 29
14
15
16
17
18
19
Act No. 2004-669 of 9 July 2004 on electronic communication and audiovisual communication services, OJ
10 July 2004, p. 12483 (last amended by the Act No. 2008-776 of 4 August 2008).
Services de médias audiovisuels à la demande – SMAD.
The Act No. 2009-258 of 5 March 2009 on audiovisual communication and the new public service
television (OJ 7 March 2009, p. 4321) transposes the directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament
and Council of 11 December 2007 (known as “audiovisual media service” or “AVMSD”) into French law.
The Articles 61 to 66 of the Act of 5 March 2009 change in particular the dispositions of chapter V of title
II of the Act of 30 September 1986 on the determination of television services within the scope of the law.
See also decree No. 2010-1379 of 12 November 2010 on audiovisual media services on demand, OJ du 14
November 2010, p. 20315.
Articles 27 and 28 of the Act No. 2009-669 of 12 June 2009 promoting the dissemination and the
protection of creation on the internet, OJ 13 June 2009, p. 9666 (last amended by the Act No. 2009-1311
of 21 October 2009). “Online press service means any online communication service to the public
published professionally by a natural or legal person who has control of its editorial content consisting of
the production and the supply to the public of a original content which is of public interest, regularly
renewed, containing the latest news, edited journalistic and which is not a promotional tool or influenced
by the industry or business.”
Act No. 86-897 of 1 August 1986 reforming the legal system of the press, OJ of 2 August 1986, p. 9529
(last amended by the Act No. 2011-525 of 17 May 2011).
174
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
October 2009 20 specifies how to recognize an online press service in order to enjoy the
benefits attached to it (like the exemption of territorial economic contribution, access to
the benefit of the investment allowance, aid funds to the development of online news
services). The Joint Committee of publications and news agencies (la Commission
paritaire des publications et agences de presse - CPPAP) is responsible for the recognition
of online news services. The main criteria are the editorial control by the individual
publisher; the production and supply of original content which is renewed regularly; the
journalistic dealing with news; the exclusion of promotional tools or commercial
communication.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
In his report of the commission of 2005, 21 Alain Lancelot recognized that there is no
apparent increase in concentration in France besides from some special cases.
Nonetheless, he asked for substantial reforms. Even though only little legislative changes
have been made, a number of improvements have been made to support the
introduction of DTT. The new version of Article 39 I of the Act of 20 September 1986
provides that one natural or legal person cannot own directly or indirectly more than 49
% of the share capital or voting rights of a company holding an authorization for a
national television service which is broadcast by DTT and whose annual average audience
using an electronic communication network exceeds 8% of the total audience of
television service. 22 Raising the threshold of 2.5% to 8% should permit to maintain the
temporary exemption from the rule for new DTT channels. A similar threshold for
audience applies in order to limit ownership of one person, holding an authorization for a
national television service terrestrially broadcast, to 33% of the capital or voting rights of
a local channel (Article 39 III).
The provisions concerning accumulation of permission of televisions are laid down in
Article 41 of the Act of 9 July 2004 and state that one person can have a maximum
number of seven authorizations for national DTT services. The accumulation of
permissions for local DTT services is possible provided that the population in the areas
served by all of these services does not exceed 12 million. Finally, a person holding a
license to operate a local television service by terrestrial radio in digital mode in a specific
area cannot become entitled to a new authorization for a similar service broadcast in
digital mode in the same area.
Concerning services operated by terrestrial radio in analogue mode, the same natural or
legal person is only entitled to have multiple networks if the population in the areas
served by the networks does not exceed 150 million inhabitants. In view of the
dissemination of radio services in digital mode, the Act of 9 July 2004 added a new
criterion for the accumulation of analogue and digital permissions. No one can hold one
or several authorizations for a radio service where the potential terrestrial audience
exceeds 20% of all public or licensed terrestrial radio services (Article 41.)
In order to prevent damage to the national pluralism in digital mode the provisions on
concentration called “multi-media” (Article 41-1-1) state that no license may be issued to
a person who would find itself in more than two of the following situations:
20
21
22
Decree No. 2009-1340 of 29 October 2009 issued for purposes of Article 1 of the Act No. 86-897 of 1
August 1986 reforming the legal system of the press, OJ of 30 October 2009, p. 18671.
“The problems of concentration in the media sector,” Alain Lancelot, in January 2005, Prime Minister,
French Documentation.
This threshold arises from the Act No. 2008-776 of 4 August 2008 on the modernization of the economy,
OJ 5 August 2008, p. 12471.
175
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Holding one or more licenses for televisions services broadcast by terrestrial radio in
digital mode allowing the servicing of areas with a population of four million
inhabitants;
- Holding one or more licenses for radio services allowing the servicing of areas with a
population of thirty million people;
- Publishing or controlling one or more daily print media containing political and general
news which represent 20 % of the total circulation of similar daily print media on the
national territory assessed over the last twelve months preceeding the date on which
the application has been presented.
In addition (article 42-2-1), no permission other than national may be issued for a
specific geographical area to a person who would find itself in more than two of the
following situations:
- Holding one or more licenses for digital television services, whether national or not,
terrestrially broadcast in the area;
- Holding one or more licenses for radio services, whether national or not, where the
potential audience in the area exceeds 10 % of the cumulative potential audience of
similar, public or licensed, services in the same area
- Publishing or controlling one or more daily print media containing political and general
news whether national or not distributed in this area.
Finally, the specificity of personal mobile television (“télévision mobile personelle” - TMP)
was taken into account: An operator cannot hold more than 20% of the total potential
audience of all TMP services terrestrially broadcast, both public and private (article 41). 23
The role of the CSA in the control of concentration is mainly related to its tasks
pertaining to broadcast licenses. Article 41-4 of the amended Act of 30 September 1986
specifies the relation that should exist between the CSA and the Competition Authority as
the audiovisual sector is also subject to the general rules on merger control. The
Competition Authority was created by the Act No. 2008-776 of 2008 on modernization of
the economy 24 replacing the Competition Council, and was provided with new powers.
Now, the Authority controls concentrations, replacing the Minister of Economy. In
addition, it is now able to conduct its own investigations and has the ability to take the
initiative with regard to notice on any competition matter and to make recommendations
to the Minister responsible for the sector to improve effective competition in the market.
The CSA must be consulted by the Competition Authority where a merger concerning
directly or indirectly a publisher or distributor of radio and television is subject to scrutiny
and where it detects anti-competitive practices in the field of radio, television and
audiovisual media services on demand.
In March 2010, the CSA approved the acquisition of the entire share capital of the AB
group by the corporation TF1 which had the purpose of controlling 80% of “Télé Monte
Carlo” (TMC) and 10% of NT1 (publisher of general television services broadcast by
terrestrial radio in digital mode). The CSA issued a favourable opinion to the various
proposed transactions to the Competition Authority in September 2009. It was however
23
24
This follows from Act No. 2007-309 of 5 March 2007 on the modernization of audiovisual broadcasting and
television of the future.
Act No. 2008-776 of 4 August 2008 on modernization of the economy, OJ of 5 August 2008, p. 12471
(last amended by the Act no. 2011-1978 of 28 December 2011).
176
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
subject to reservations to ensure competition between the channels of digital terrestrial
television, particularly in the fields of advertising and the acquisition of broadcasting
rights of sports events. The Competition Authority approved the acquisition but imposed
substantial commitments to the TF1 group.
The Council of State dismissed the action for annulment of M6 against the decision of the
CSA of 23 March 2010 in its decision of 30 December 2010. 25 It considered in particular
that the relevant operation did not compromise the maintenance of a sufficient diversity
of operators as in 2003, “when TMC and NT1 got their license, five other channels, four
of which were held by new operators, were present on the free digital terrestrial
television besides the public or commercial incumbent channels which were also
broadcast through analogue cable, nine other channels, including four held by
incumbents and five by independent operators, will be present after the transaction at
issue, in addition to the public or commercial incumbent channels.” That same day, the
Council of State also dismissed the action for annulment of the decision of the
Competition Authority ruling that the effects on competition of the transaction were “not
of such importance that the prohibition is the only available proportionate measure” and
that the transaction could be authorized given the commitments made by the parties. 26
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The Act of 5 March 2009 on audiovisual communication and the new public television
service 27 also initiated major reforms in the public audiovisual sector. The act achieves
the transformation of the France Télévisions group into a single national programme
company (Article 44 of the 1986 Act as amended). The audiovisual services published by
France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5 and RFO are now published directly by the holding
company France Télévisions. The reform also introduced duties and responsibilities solely
for France Télévisions which reinforced its mission of public interest and its specificity.
Until 1982, the managers of public companies in the audiovisual industry had always
been appointed by the executive power. The Act No. 82-652 of 29 July 1982 28 made an
additional guarantee for the exercise of freedom of communication by entrusting an
independent administrative authority with the task of appointing the president of public
broadcasting companies. The Act of 5 March 2009 (Article 13) is thus considered as a
step backwards, as it places the state - in this case the President of the Republic - in the
centre of the appointment procedure of the presidents of national programme
companies, instead of the regulatory authority. However, according to the Constitutional
Court the law "does not deprive the constitutional requirements for audiovisual
communication of legal guarantees". 29 Firstly, these appointments are subject to the
opinion of the parliamentary committees with veto power three-fifths of the votes cast in
the two commissions. Secondly, the assent of the CSA is necessary.
To affirm the identity of public service broadcasting, the law also provides the procedures
for phasing out advertising on France Télévisions from 5 January 2009 (Article 53 of the
Act of 30 September 1986). However, there will be a total suppression of advertising on
public channels only from 1 January 2016 on. The Act thus reforms the financing of
25
26
27
28
29
Council of State, 30 December 2010, Société Métropole télévision, No. 338273.
Council of State, 30 December 2010, Société Métropole télévision, No. 338197.
Act No. 2009-258 of 5 March 2009 on audiovisual communication and the new public television service
(1), OJ of 7 March 2009 p. 4321 (last amended by Order No. 2009-901 of 24 July 2009).
Act No. 82-652 of 29 July 1982 on audiovisual communication, OJ 30 July 1982 p. 2431 (last amended by
Order No. 2009-901 o 24 July 2009).
Constitutional Council decision No. 2009-577 DC, 3 March 2009, OJ 7 March 2009, p. 4336. cons. 5 to 8
and 10. Similar guarantees accompany the dismissal of the presidents of national program companies by
reasoned decree of the President of the Republic.
177
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
public television. The license fee is renamed "contribution to public broadcasting" and
remains the main source of financing of the company France Télévisions. Two new taxes
are designed to offset the removal of advertising revenue. One is imposed on advertising
on private television channels, the other on services provided by telecom operators. 30 On
20 July 2010, the European Commission approved the annual funding mechanism of
France Télévisions as complying with European Union rules on State aid. This mechanism
provides for the allocation of some of the resources of the contribution to public
broadcasting and a budget subsidy.
Furthermore, the Act of 1 August 2000 31 introduced provisions on tasks, structures and
resources of public sector organizations, designed to assert the identity of the public
sector. The general tasks of the public sector are laid down in article 43-11 and are
mainly focused on the concepts of pluralism, programme quality and innovation.
Pluralism is broadly defined and includes both cultural and linguistic pluralism and
pluralism of information and genres. Respect for human rights and democratic principles
or the access of deaf and hearing impaired to programmes are also covered. Several acts
extended these tasks, like the Act of 5 March 2009 which clarified that national
programme companies are also involved in programmes of "education, environment,
protection and sustainable development." The tasks also include the promotion of
regional languages in the same way as the French language. According to the Act No.
2006-396 of 31 March 2006 for equal opportunities the national programme companies
"implement measures to promote social cohesion, cultural diversity and the fight against
discrimination and propose a programme that reflects the diversity of French society."
"They provide a mission for information on health and sexuality," according to Act No.
2010-121 of 8 February 2010 which aims at including incest committed against minors in
the French penal code and at improving the detection and the care for victims of incest.
Finally, Act No. 2010-769 of 9 July 2010 on violence specifically to women, on violence
within couples and the impact they have on children introduced "the fight against
discrimination, gender bias, violence against women, violence within the couple and
equality between men and women" in Article 43-11.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
In the audiovisual sector, the Act of 5 March 2009 supplemented Article 44 of the 1986
Act by a chapter VI, which states that "any journalist of a national programme company
has the right to refuse any pressure, to refuse to disclose its sources, to refuse to sign a
programme or a part of it the form or content of which has been modified without his
knowledge or against his will. He cannot be compelled to accept any act contrary to his
personal professional conviction."
The Act No. 2010-1 of 4 January 2010 on the confidentiality of journalists' sources
(Article 56-2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) enhanced the procedural safeguards with
regard to house searches at journalists’, drawing heavily on the regulation on house
searches conducted in the office or home of lawyers. The protection is extended to the
premises of news agencies, journalists' homes, where the investigations carried out are
related to their profession, or company cars. Searches can only be performed by a judge
if they are conducted on the premises of a media company, of an audiovisual
communication enterprise, of a communication company to the public who is online, of a
30
31
Article 302 KG and 302 KH of the French Tax Code.
Act No. 2000-719 of 1 August 2000 amending Act No. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986 on freedom of
communication, OJ 2 August 2000, p. 11903.
178
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
news agency, in cars of these companies or agencies or at the home of a journalist,
where the investigations are related to his work. The judge "indicates the nature of the
offense or offenses at issue in the investigations and the reasons justifying the search
and the subject thereof". The judge ensures that the investigations respect the free
exercise of the journalistic profession, that they do not violate the confidentiality of
sources in breach of Article 2 of the Act of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press and that
they do not hinder or do not result in undue delay in the dissemination of information.
The act also established a procedure for objecting to the seizure of documents that could
identify one of the sources. Where appropriate, the judge of freedoms and detention,
after hearing the judge and the journalist, decides either that the document has to be
returned immediately if he considers that there is no need to seize it or that the seal is
removed and the report is attached to the case file. Moreover, a journalist who is sued
for defamation can no longer be prosecuted for concealing if he puts forward in his
defence documents covered by the secrecy of investigation or any other professional
secrecy that is capable of establishing its good faith or the correctness of the defamatory
facts (Article 35 of the Act of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press as amended).
The Act of 4 January 2010 32 enshrines the general principle of confidentiality of
journalists' sources in the Act of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press. 33 The
confidentially of sources can only “directly or indirectly” be undermined if an overriding
public interest justifies it and if the measures are strictly necessary and proportionate to
the legitimate aim pursued”. However, this impairment cannot consist in any way in an
obligation to reveal sources for the journalist.
Concerning criminal proceedings, the Act extends the right of the journalist as a witness
to protect his sources. That is to say not only in the context of an appraisal process but
also when he is summoned as a witness in the criminal court.
Despite the passing of the Act of 4 January 2010, the fight for the protection of sources
is not over which is demonstrated by the following case, known as "fadettes du Monde".
After the publication of an article reporting on investigations written by two journalists in
the newspaper “Le Monde” the prosecutor in Nanterre received a complaint for violation
of professional secrecy and therefore ordered a preliminary investigation, notably by
enabling police officers to obtain the identification of the phone numbers of the
correspondents of the authors of the article through requisitions from telephone
operators. In its decision of 6 December 2011, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision
of the Court of Appeal of Bordeaux by saying that “the infringement of the confidentiality
of journalists' sources was not justified by the existence of an overriding public interest
and that the measure was not strictly necessary and proportionate to the legitimate aim
pursued (...)”. 34
Under the agreement that distributors of the service sign with the CSA, they agree to a
duty of honesty regarding information. The CSA is responsible for ensuring compliance
with the commitments entered into and may, "order the publication of a statement, of
which it sets the terms and conditions of distribution, in all cases of breach of obligations
by publishers of audiovisual communication services." 35 By decision of 9 March 2010
which was strongly discussed by journalists and chairmen of channels, the CSA imposed,
32
33
34
35
Act No. 2010-1 of 4 January 2010 on the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, OJ of 5 January 2010, p.
272.
Act of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press, OJ of 30 July 1881, p. 4201 (last amended by legislative
decree of 6 May 1931, art. 1).
Cour de cassation, c. crim., 6 December 2011, No 11-83970.
CSA, decision No. 2010-133 of 2 March 2010 ordering the insertion of a statement in the program of Canal
+ as a sanction, OJ NO 0082 du 8 April 2010, text No 53.
179
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
for the first time, the reading of a statement of apology on their antenna to two channels
(TF1 and Canal +) because of the lack of thoroughness of their information. TF1 was
accused of three violations in this case: dissemination of a photograph of a German killer
who was not the one at issue; images of a protest by Muslims showing the opposite of
what was announced in the commentary, images of the vote of the Hadopi law in the
National Assembly showing a full semicircle while it was half empty. Canal + had
broadcast a parody from the internet in a magazine programme, presenting it as a true
extract from German television news on the election of the president of a French public
institution.
Act No. 2010-769 of 9 July 2010 on violence against women, violence within couples and
the impact they have on children gave the right to submit a case to the CSA to
associations defending the rights of women (Article 48-1 of the 1986 Act). The CSA can
then request publishers and distributors of audiovisual communication services and
satellite operators to fulfil their legal and regulatory obligations and those obligations
arising from the principles laid down in Articles 1 and 3-1 of the 1986 Act like the respect
for human dignity. This possibility is also available to professional organizations and
unions representing the sector of audiovisual communication and to the National Council
of regional languages and cultures and family associations recognized by the National
Union of Family Associations.
- Specific positive content obligations
The Act of 31 March 2006 for equal opportunities 36 enshrined the promotion of diversity
undertaken for many years by the CSA. The legislator amended the Act of 1986 (Article
3-1) by giving the regulator the task of ensuring the representation of diversity in the
audiovisual media, and of contributing to the promotion of social cohesion and the fight
against discrimination. 37 The 2006 Act further requires television channels to reflect
diversity in their programming. The Act of 5 March 2009 on audiovisual communication
and the new public service television also contains several provisions intended to ensure
that the national programme companies take better account of French diversity in both
programming and managing their human resources. Since 2004, the France Télévisions
group carries out activities in this area (e.g. the project "Equal Pluriel-Média"). In 2007,
the CSA established a working group on diversity and then a research institute on
diversity (L’Observatoire), which aims at supporting the CSA by guiding its research and
by making proposals on all issues relating to diversity in the media. The quantitative and
qualitative study of the representation of diversity on television, conducted in 2008 by
l’Observatoire, showed that “diversity on television increased by only one point in a
decade with regard to TV news, fiction and presenters”. In 2009, the CSA commissioned
the IFOP company with a semi-annual evaluation of the perception of diversity on TV for
at least three years.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
Public aid to the press recently underwent a major reform with the publication of the
decree of 13 April 2012 38 which is the expected result of the Convention of the press
(“Etats généraux de la presse”) organized in 2008. It focuses on the governance of the
various devices of direct aid to the press. An agreement was signed for a period of three
36
37
38
Act No. 2006-396 of 31 March 2006 for equal opportunities, OJ of 2 April 2006, p. 4950 (last amended by
the Act No. 2011-1977 of 28 December 2011).
On this basis the CSA has taken the decision of 10 November 2009 for furthering the representation of the
diversity of French society in the programs of national terrestrial free channels and Canal +.
Decree No 2012-484 of 13 April 2012 on aid reform to the press and strategic funds for the development
of the press.
180
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
years with the government for companies receiving significant amounts of State aid "to
secure the mutual commitments and ensure regular monitoring". Incentives in the form
of bonuses may be granted to any of those companies which made a special effort,
particularly in terms of compliance with standards, action on environmental issues,
vocational training or corporate social responsibility. The decree also provides for a
periodic review of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the various aids. The annual
maximum amounts allocated and the breakdown by beneficiary are now made public in
the interests of transparency.
In respect of aid which intends to promote the pluralistic expression of currents of
thoughts and opinions, the fund to support local radio in the audiovisual sector is also
worth mentioning (Article 80 of the 1986 Act). 39 It concerns community radio stations
whose business resources coming from messages broadcasted on the air having the
character of brand advertising or sponsorship are less than 20% of their total turnover
(e.g. neighbourhood, community, cultural or school radio stations). This funding includes
grants for installation, equipment, operating and grants for radio operation.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Pursuant to the provisions of Article 13 of the 1986 Act as amended, the CSA "ensures
respect for the pluralistic expression of thoughts and opinions in the programmes of radio
and television services, especially in programs on general and political news." The mode
of assessment of political pluralism is rather quantitative.
The CSA determines how long a politician appears on radio and television by monitoring
the programmes. The assessment criteria which was used for a long time was based on
the so-called "three-thirds” rule according to which the Government, the parliamentary
majority and the opposition shall each have an equal time. In 2000, a new reference
system called "relative balance" was substituted to this customary rule. Four categories
(Government, parliamentary majority, parliamentary opposition, political parties not
represented in Parliament) are then subject of a presentation of speaking time overall
and by subject. However, following a decision of the State Council, 40 a new method for
ensuring compliance with the principle of political pluralism was adopted on 21 July
2009. 41 The administrative judge held that speeches by the President of the Republic
falling within the national political debate should be taken into account. Following this
decision, the CSA adopted a new principle of pluralism providing for the taking into
account of those speeches of the Head of State which fall under the national political
debate according to their content and their context.
The time corresponding to a speech by the President of the Republic as part of the
political debate is added to the speaking time of other politicians of the category
"majority" (members of the Government, representatives of the parliamentary majority
and collaborators of the President).
The rule, which was introduced in 2009, also provides that the parliamentary opposition
has at least half of the total time. In addition, the Council insists that the parties not
represented in Parliament and the parliamentary formations that belong neither to the
majority nor to the opposition continue to have equitable access to the antenna
(considering the number of elected and the results of the various elections).
39
40
41
Decree No. 2006-1067 of 25 August 2006 adopted for the application of Article 80 of the Act No. 86-1067
of 30 September 1986 on freedom of communication, OJ of 26 August 2006, p. 12678.
State Council, 8 April 2009, François Hollande and Didier Mathus, No. 311136.
Deliberation of the CSA of 21 July 2009 on political pluralism.
181
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Thus, each quarter, the CSA will release the speaking time of politicians on the news, on
news magazines and on other programmes of the major national television channels,
news channels and the main news radio stations to the presidents of the Senate and the
National Assembly and to the leaders of political parties represented in Parliament. 42 In
addition, the CSA warns broadcasters and ultimately punishes those services that do not
respect Article 13 of the 1986 Act. 43
The prohibition of propaganda in its commercial form ensures not only the control of
election expenses, but also the equal treatment of candidates. Article L. 52-1 of the
Election Code prohibits the use of any method of commercial advertising through the
press or through any audiovisual communication for purposes of election propaganda,
during the six months preceding the first day of the month of an election and until the
election day. With regard to the audiovisual communication, this provision adds little to
Article 14 of the 1986 Act which prohibits advertising programmes of political nature at
all times.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The National Union of Journalists (le Syndicat national des journalistes - SNJ) said that,
the Charter of the journalist's professional duties in 1918, last amended in 1938, was
again revised "to take into account both the emergence of new means of communicating
information and the ongoing crisis in the press companies (...)”. The modernized version
was published in March 2011 44 and is contained in the agreement concluded for more
than 2,500 journalists at France Télévisions.
The new version takes into account the emergence of new means of communicating
information and the ongoing crisis in the press companies. It specifically affirms "the
public's right to complete, free, independent and pluralistic high quality information (...)”.
The principles and ethical rules in the Charter "oblige every journalist, independent of his
position, his responsibility in the publishing chain and the form of press for which he is
working”.
It says, that the responsibility of the journalist may not "be confused with that of the
publisher, nor exempt the latter from his obligations". It also emphasizes the material
and moral security, which is the "basis of the independence of the journalist". The
Charter also emphasizes the protection of sources and the freedom of opinion and
conscience of journalists.
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
The authorization of frequency usage remains a major task of the CSA, especially with
regard to ensuring external pluralism of the operators. However, the authorization is less
relevant for the determination of specific obligations borne by the license holders, to the
benefit of other instruments. Throughout the licensing procedure (Article 29, 29-1, 30,
30-1 and 30-2 of the 1986 Act), the CSA has a broad competence in guaranteeing
pluralism, especially by ensuring that the authorized services comply with the anti42
43
44
For the second trimester 2011, see for example http://www.csa.fr/Espace-juridique/Decisions-duCSA/Temps-d-intervention-des-personnalites-politiques-a-la-television-et-a-la-radio-au-premiersemestre-2011.
For example, on the 19 October 2011, the CSA announced that it had sent a formal notice for noncompliance with these rules to the three news channels iTélé, LCI and BFM-TV, as well as to the radio
stations Europe 1 and France Inter.
See on http://www.snj.fr/spip.php?article1032.
182
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
concentration scheme. This power is limited insofar as the CSA is sharing the definition of
the content of the obligations of licensees with the Government which sets out the
general obligations imposed on licensees, especially in particularly sensitive areas of
advertising and the programme industry. However, the Government is not involved in the
procedure for issuing the licenses.
The procedure for issuing licenses for national, regional or local, private television
services broadcast by terrestrial means is basically identical to that for private radio
stations (see above). The 1986 Act (Article 28-1) sets the simplified procedure for
renewal. This procedure allows renewing the license outside a call for application but only
twice in addition to the initial license and each time for five years. Only one renewal is
possible for television services by terrestrial distribution in digital mode.
The public service channels (like France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, France Ô, as
well as Arte and the parliamentary channel), on the other hand, have a priority right to
use the spectrum resource. This is “justified by the public service tasks incumbent upon
them.” However, the State Council said in a notice that the regulatory authority has a
discretion which would justify refusal of the requested access priority “if the granting of it
would reduce the available resource for private operators to such an extent that it would
undermine pluralism of the programs and opinions in the area concerned. 45
The signing of an agreement, which contains the definition of the obligations of the
broadcaster, prevails now as an instrument of regulation on the authorization.
The Act of 5 March 2007 compensates the loss that the publishers of national television
services terrestrially broadcast in analogue mode (Canal +, TF1 and M6) have due to
early termination and phasing out of the validity of their licenses.
Two compensations have been defined by the legislator: firstly, the extension of the
permission to broadcast terrestrially for a period of five years from the date of the final
extinction of analogue broadcasting. Secondly, the allocation of an additional right to
broadcast to these same publishers under certain conditions ("compensatory channel" Article 103 of the 1986 Act.). 46
Concerning mobile television, the CSA is required to give a part of the radio resource to
the dissemination of radio services and audiovisual communication services other than
radio and television (such as broadcast data services - Art. 30-7).
Due to the frequencies released by the shutdown of analogue television in
October 2011, France was able to launch the mobile broadband. 47 It can thus
ensure the development of mobile broadband by releasing additional frequencies,
especially by rearranging the frequency bands allocated to electronic
communications: first studies estimate a need for additional 450 MHz by 2020.
Concerning digital television, all channels of DTT should now switch to high
definition. The plan is to develop interactivity and mobility, and to launch at least
one 3D channel. To achieve this goal and to optimize the use of frequencies, the
45
46
47
State Council Notice no. 384 781 of 25 January 2011 on the interpretation of the first paragraph of II of
Article 26 of the amended Act of 30 September 1986.
A complaint relating to Article 103 of the 1986 Act gives rise to an action for breach (under the "Telecoms
Package") and to a review procedure (compatibility with State aid rules ) before the European
Commission.
Mid-2011, there were 66 million mobile subscribers in France, representing a penetration level of the
French population of over 101%. The multimedia 3G subscriber base rose meanwhile to 29.3 million in
mid-2011.
183
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
compression format MPEG 4 will be standardized by 2015 and the broadcasting
standard will be DVB-T2 in 2020.
Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
The distribution chain of the press consists of three levels of distribution: The "convey
service of the press" that do long-range transports of publications, the 150 "newsagents"
who act as wholesalers, finally, more than 29,000 "distributors" who hold the point of
sale of the press. France is characterized by a cooperative system of distribution of the
press to ensure the impartiality of the entire distribution chain, meaning that any
document has to be distributed, regardless of its political viewpoint or its circulation.
Given the economic difficulties faced by the press, the Act of 20 July 2011 on the
regulation of the distribution system of the press 48 modernized the regulatory
mechanisms of the distribution sector of the press established by the Act of 2 April 1947,
known as the "Bichet" Act. The sales figures depend on the development of press
distribution on digital media as well as on major industrial imbalances affecting the media
sector. The Act revises the composition of the Supreme Council of the convey service of
the Press (Conseil supérieur des messageries de presse - CSMP), a professional
regulatory body, whose role is also strengthened. 49 The Act establishes a control system
that is headed by both the CSMP and an independent administrative authority: the
authority to regulate the distribution of the press (l’Autorité de régulation de la
distribution de la presse - ARDP). The latter is responsible, on the one hand, for
mediating disputes between the players in the sector and, on the other hand, for giving
effect to the regulatory decisions of the CSMP. In March 2010, Bruno Mettling noted in
his report on the financial recovery of the messaging service Presstalis (former nouvelles
messageries de la presse parisienne- NMPP), that "the monopolistic tendency that
traditionally characterizes level 1 and 2 of the distribution of press, the interpenetration
of competition levels between actors in the different parts of the distribution chain and
constitutional issues relating to the distribution of the political and general news media
and to the access of the readers to the plurality of news supply on the whole territory
clearly argue for the creation of a true independent administrative authority, which
ensures sectoral economic regulation based on the principles of independence and
impartiality together with a body directly involving professionals”. The Act of 20 July
2011 organizes the interaction of the sectoral regulators and the Competition Authority.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
The 1986 Act guarantees that public channels are offered (France 2, France 3, France 5,
Arte, TV5, France Ô, La Chaîne Parlementaire and for digital offers France 4 – Art. 30-2
of the 1986 Act “must carry”).
With regard to personal mobile television (TMP), the Act also requires distributors to
comply with must-offer rules concerning their offers made by service providers of
personal mobile television which are also broadcast unencrypted on digital terrestrial
television (Art. 30-2). Accordingly, it forces these providers to comply with those
requests of the distributors that ensure the resumption of services within the offerings of
these distributors. However, there are some exceptions.
48
49
Act n° 2011-852 of 20 July 2011 on the regulation of the distribution system of the press, OJ of 21 July
2011, p. 12454.
See in this regard: “Proposals for the reform of the Conseil supérieur des messageries de presse”, report
of Bruno Lasserre, president of the Competition Authority, 9 July 2009.
184
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Distributors whose offering uses a network that does not use the frequencies allocated by
the CSA (cable, satellite, DSL, mobile network, etc.) must make a declaration, except
those serving less than one hundred households (Art. 34). They must carry public service
channels in their offering (Art. 34-2). Any distributor of services using a network (other
than satellite) not using frequencies allocated by the CSA provides its subscribers with
“local public services for information on local life" (Art. 34-2 - "must-carry local public
channels”). Finally, they must offer free digital terrestrial channels on all media (cable,
satellite, DSL - Art. 34-4).
- Role of platform operators
Article 30-2 of the 1986 Act as amended lays down the legal system applicable to
distributors of services terrestrially broadcast in digital mode. The Act forces the
programme editors who have channels within the same multiplex to come together to
designate a common technical operator called "service distributor." All editors on this
multiplex, authorized by the CSA, jointly propose a separate company to the regulatory
authority within two months to which the CSA will assign the corresponding spectrum
resource. Failing agreement between the editors in question, the CSA should initiate a
new call for applications. The service distributor is subject to authorization by the CSA
which assigns the corresponding spectrum resource. However, the distributor responsible
for the marketing function of the supply of programmes is obliged to make only a prior
declaration.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
Act No. 86-897 of 1 August 1986 as amended reforming the legal system of the press
lays down an anti-concentration regime and prohibits in Article 3: “to lend ones name to
any publishing company, by simulating the acquisition of stock or shares, the acquisition
or the lease management of a business or security." Article 4 lays down the nominative
nature of shares in the case of corporations. In addition, "any transfer is subject to the
approval of the board of directors or the supervisory board."
Article 5 of the Act of 1 August 1986 was supplemented 50 by an obligation for media
publications to disclose the composition of their shareholding. The scope of this measure
is limited to shareholders who hold at least 10% of the capital in order to be in
compliance with the laws on publicly traded companies. In any press publication, the
following information must thus be revealed to the readers in every issue (or on the
homepage of any online news service): the full name of the owner or principal owner if
the publishing company does not have legal personality; if the publishing company has
legal personality, its firm name, its registered office, its legal form and the name of its
legal representative and of the natural or legal persons holding at least 10% of its
capital; the name of the publication director and the editor-in-chief. Finally, article 6 of
the Act of 1 August 1986 as amended provides that "any publishing company must bring
to the attention of their readers or the users of the online publication or online news
service: 51 any assignment or promise of assignment of shares which would result into an
assignee having at least one third of the share capital or voting rights; as well as a
transfer or promise of transfer of ownership or exploitation of a security on press
50
51
Act No. 2011-525 of 17 May 2011 on the simplification and improvement of the quality of law (Art. 66), OJ
of 18 May 2011, p. 8537.
Wording resulting from the Act No. 2011-525 of 17 May 2011 on the simplification and improvement of
the quality of the right.
185
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
publication or online press service." This must be done within one month after they
acquired knowledge of the fact or in the next issue of the publication.
Articles 35 to 38 of the Act of 30 September 1986 provide for similar measures with
regard to audiovisual communication (prohibition of lending the name, nominative nature
of shares, information on changes in share capital to the CSA).
- Accountability of public service media
The public sector organizations of audiovisual communication annually submit a report to
Parliament in order to set out the performance of their duties (Article 43-11 of the 1986
Act).
Contracts on the objectives and resources are concluded between the state as
shareholder and France Télévisions, Radio France, the company responsible for
audiovisual services outside of France, Arte-France and l'Institut national de l'audiovisuel
for a period of four or five years. Those contracts contain the specific remit of those
various services and should allow clarifying the position in the programming and the
development strategy of their tasks. These contracts are laid down in Article 53 of the
1986 Act and are part of an approach that encourages the responsabilisation of channel
directors.
The Act No. 2010-769 of 9 July 2010 on violence against women, violence within couples
stipulates that the president of France Télévisions annually reports on the activity and
work of this Council when it reports on the performance of the contract on the objectives
and resources of the company before the committees of the National Assembly and
Senate responsible for cultural affairs and Finance.
- Freedom of information laws
The recognition of the right to information is confined to specific areas at the legislative
level, such as that of administrative documents (Article 1 of Act No. 78-753 of 17 July
1978 introducing various measures to improve relations between the administration and
the public and various administrative, social and fiscal provisions).
Act No. 78-753 of 17 July 1978 (Article 1) provides that every person has the right to
obtain disclosure of administrative documents produced or received as part of their public
service task by the State, local authorities or by other persons in public law or persons in
private law responsible for such a task and that this right exists regardless of “the date,
storage place, form and medium" of the documents. However, there are restrictions for
documents affecting the interests mentioned in Article 6 of the 1978 Act: national
defence secrets, conduct of foreign policy of France, state security, public safety,
personal security, secrecy of the deliberations of the Government, currency and public
credit, conduct of proceedings before the courts, etc. In addition, documents that contain
information on natural persons may be disclosed only to the persons concerned or their
representatives to maintain medical confidentiality and the right to privacy. The
Commission on Access to Administrative Documents (La Commission d’accès aux
documents administratifs - CADA) is responsible for ensuring the proper implementation
of this right of access.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
The Government has noted the decision of the Constitutional Council of 10 June 2009
(see above) and reaffirmed its commitment to prevent the plundering of works on the
186
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
internet. The prevention of copyright infringements will be achieved by punishing the
perpetrators of illegal download. To this end, the Hadopi law II submits the judgment of
counterfeiting offenses committed on the internet to specific rules of criminal procedure
(judgment by a single judge and simplified procedure). Furthermore, it establishes tort
liability (Article L. 335-7 of the Code of Intellectual Property) and liability for
misdemeanour (Article L. 335-7-1), which lead to the suspension of internet access. The
criminal judge has jurisdiction as was required by the Constitutional Council in its
decision of June 2009. Despite the lack of guarantees made under this new law, 52 the
Constitutional Council has validated it in general. However, it did not approve of the
procedure which allows the judge to decide on the request for damages by penal order
because the legislator failed to clarify the rules. 53 The Constitutional Council notably
approved the suspension of access to internet for a period not exceeding one year as well
as the obligation imposed to the subscriber to pay the subscription fee. It held that "no
rule or constitutional principle precludes that an administrative authority participates in
the implementation of the execution of the penalty of suspension of internet access”. 54
In accordance with the commitment in the government plan "Digital France 2012", the
goal of implementation of digital broadcasting everywhere in France before 30 November
2011 has been achieved. 100% of the French (including those overseas) have switched
to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and now have access to 19 free channels in digital
quality. The plan “Digital France 2012” was presented in October and included 154
operational measures. The Ministry of Economics assures that 95% of those measures
have been achieved or will be achieved.
99% of the population now has access to broadband via DSL. 55 The effort continues in
less dense areas of the territory with the national programme "very high speed". To
expand access to broadband, the Government launched in December 2009 a label
"broadband for all", applicable to affordable offers of broadband access available on the
entire territory (maximum: 35 € per month). Four bids using satellite technology and
offering data rates of 2 Mbit/s have been labelled. The aim is to implement very-highspeed broadband for fixed 56 and mobile devices for all inhabitants of Franceh. 70% of the
population will have very-high-speed broadband in 2020 and 100% in 2025 thanks to the
national very-high-speed-broadband programme. The state provides support to public
initiative networks carried by local authorities which complement private initiatives
initiated within 3 to 5 years ("Guichet public initiative networks" to co-finance neutral and
passive deployment projects of open optical fibre, up to 900 million Euro in subsidies). 57
The decree also creates a strategic fund for the development of the press, which merges
the two main aid funds for industrial projects (the aid funds for the modernization of the
daily press and the press identified with political and general information established by
Decree No. 99-79 of 5 February 1999) and digital projects (the aid funds for the
development of online news services created by Decree No. 2009-1379 of 11 November
2009). This new fund is managed by a joint committee and has three sections: industrial
52
53
54
55
56
57
In this sense, D. Rousseau "After Hadopi 1 and 2, Hadopi 3?”, Légipresse, December 2009, p. 173. "If,
indeed, the Hadopi law 2 gives jurisdiction to the judge, as requested by the Council, it does so according
to a procedure (the penal order) which deprives litigants of the principles applicable to any sanction with
the character of a punishment."
Constitutional Council Decision No. 2009-590 DC, 22 octobre 2009, OJ of 29 October 2009, p. 18292.
The decree No. 2009-1773 of 29 December 2009 established the High Authority for the dissemination of
works and the protection of rights on the internet (OJ of 31 December 2009, p. 23348).
End of June 2011, there were 21.5 million subscribers for broadband internet for landline in France. DSL
subscriptions amounted to 20.5 million, plus a million subscribers connected through cable networks, radio
network or satellite.
Mid-2011, there were 550,000 subscribers to very-high-speed broadband in France.
The deployment of optical fibre has increased from less than 100,000 households in 2007 to 1.3 million
households today.
187
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
modernization and transformation, digital innovations, winning new readerships. The
decree also extends the scope of aid recipients. The Ministry of Culture said that
newspaper companies which are editors of at least one daily publication become eligible
for the first section of the new fund if they obtained a certificate of the “commission
paritaire des publications et agences de presse” (CPPAP) (joint committee of press
publications and press agencies) and if they provide regular news and commentary of all
sports. The free newspapers also become eligible for the first section of the fund for their
prints made in a printing press.
The decree of 13 April 2012 finally makes an adjustment of certain devices. A third
section is created for the allocation of aid to national dailies with low advertising
resources provided for by Decree No. 86-616 of 12 March 1986. It allows preventing that
the development of advertising revenue will lead to a brutal suppression of aid. Decree
No. 2002-629 of 25 April 2002 on aid for the distribution of the daily press is amended to
create a second section which integrates the objectives and recipients of aid for
distribution and promotion of French press abroad. Parallel to this, Decree No. 20041311 of 20 November 2004 on aid funds for distribution and promotion of the French
press abroad is repealed. Decree No. 2010-1088 of 15 September 2010 on the
development and modernization of the press in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and the
Wallis and Futuna Islands is also amended to allow media companies located in these
geographic areas benefiting from the new aid instituted by the decree. The decree also
contains provisions for the continuation of aid to the transport of the press.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
The newspaper Le Monde was the first to have a mediator in France (since 1994). Since
1998, public broadcasting also has mediators. In 2002, Radio France followed and,
finally, since 2004, the regional daily press got mediators (e.g. Sud-Ouest or L’Est
républicain). This form of mediation differs from the so-called institutional mediation,
whose best-known examples are those of the Défenseur du droit (Article 71-1 of the
French Constitution, organic laws No. 2011-333 and No. 2011-334, ordinary law of 29
March 2011) or the mediator of the cinema (established by Act No. 82-652 of 29 July
1982).
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
The Act of 1 August 2000 introduced Article 46 in the 1986 Act which provides for the
establishment of an advisory board for programs at France Télévisions. Four years after
the introduction of this provision, the legislator noticed that it had remained
unimplemented and amended the wording with Act No. 2004-669 on electronic
communications and audiovisual communication services. Article 46 of the Act of 30
September 1986 as amended by the 2004 Act removed any reference to the drawing of
lot among the persons liable to pay the license fee and referred to a decree for the
definition of the composition, the tasks and operating procedures of this advisory board
which is designed to give voice to the viewers of France Télévisions. However, neither the
writing of 2000, nor that of 2004 allowed the effective establishment of this council. The
Act of 5 March 2009 imposes an obligation of result to France Télévisions without
determining the composition and operating procedures of the advisory council for
programmes. Since 2010, France Télévisions compels itself to maintain a regular and
direct dialogue with a small group of twenty viewers, who have the possibility to express
themselves on public service television and how it performs its tasks. The application
188
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
deadline is renewed each year on the website of Club France Télévisions to ensure a
geographic, age and socio-professional balance.
However, viewers’ associations are not involved in this scheme which confirms the
insoluble question of their representativeness. The influence of these institutions, which
intend to integrate the public in the media and to force the media to explain their choice
to public representatives, is questionable. The intervention of these advisory boards in
the field of information is particularly problematic as a prior consultation is difficult in this
field.
11.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
11.2.1.
Radio
“Radio France” includes five public national radio stations: France Inter, France Musique,
France Culture, France Info and France Bleu (43 decentralized stations offer a regional or
local program).
The legal framework for digital terrestrial radio is gradually emerging. 58 For now, the CSA
has regularly been authorizing experiments in large cities (Paris, Lyon, Nantes and
Rouen) since 2009.
Three main commercial groups, RTL, NRJ, and Lagardère active have half of the market
share. The RTL group operates four radio stations, with RTL being the radio station with
the highest audience share among public and private stations. The group also owns or
has shares of many TV channels as a producer of audiovisual programmes (including RTL
9, M6 and W9).
The NRJ Group operates four radio stations in France. The founder Jean-Paul Baudecroux
controls the company through the NRJ Group. The group also owns a television channel
(NRJ12) and the first music channel broadcast via cable, satellite and DSL (NRJ Hit). 59
The Lagardère group, managed by Arnaud Lagardère, operates in nearly 40 countries
and has four business lines. La Lagardère Publishing (Hachette Livre is the publishing
imprint); Lagardère Active combines the group’s activity in the press and audiovisual
media area (several magazines, three radio stations, several television channels with
youth and music programmes); Lagardère Services is doing all the supply activities;
finally Lagardère Unlimited now includes the activities Sports and Entertainment
(audiovisual production). Lagardère Publicité is the third largest advertising agency in
France.
58
59
Act of 30 September 1986 amended by the Act of 9 July 2004, of 5 March 2007 and of 5 March 2009.
Emmanuelle Machet, country report France, Study on “the information of the citizen in the EU: obligations
for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed”, The
European Institute for the Media, 2004, p. 74 et seq.
189
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 48 FR: Main Radio Companies
Companies
Ownership Structure
Radio France
Public service
RTL Group
Bertelsmann (89,8 %)
NRJ Group
JeanPaul Baudecroux (75,5
%)
Lagardere Active
Lagardère
RMC
Les Indés Radios : 1
23 stations
Next Radio Tv
Main Radio Stations
France Inter (9.4 %)
France Bleu (6.1 %)
France Info (3.5 %)
France Musiques (0.9 %)
France Culture (1.1 %)
RTL (12.7 %)
Fun Radio (3.9 %)
RTL2 (2.7 %)
Chérie FM (2.3 %)
Nostalgie (4.2 %)
NRJ (6.2 %)
Rire et Chansons (1.6 %)
Europe 1 (7,4 %)
Virgin radio (anciennement Eu
rope 2) (2.1 %)
RFM (2.8 %)
Total Market Share
in 2010
22.2 %
19.6 %
14.8 %
12.6 %
7%
11.4%
* Source: Audience share- Key figures and Balance sheets- CSA
11.2.2.
Television
The DTT currently has 18 free national channels broadcasting full-time in metropolitan
regions (four of them are also broadcast in high definition), 10 pay TV channels (1 of
them being broadcast in high definition), 50 local channels. Overseas, the first multiplex
contains eight to ten channels depending on local peculiarities.
At the end of 2011, 141 channels were under contract with the CSA and 62 reported
(annual budget of less than 150,000 €) for broadcasting on networks not using
frequencies allocated by the CSA (cable, satellite, DSL, mobile, internet). At that time,
concerning video on demand, France had no less than 55 active platforms available on
the internet, IPTV, on portable media player or video game consoles.
Since July 2010, a new national public service channel is broadcast for free on DTT:
France Ô. That month the group “France Télévisions” has also launched the website
containing catch-up TV “Pluzz”.
The channel group “Canal +” (off Canal+ SA) with 23 channels produced by nine
different companies (Multithématiques, Jimmy/Comédie, Planète Câble, TPS Star, Canal+
Distribution (Kiosque Sport), Kiosque (Ciné+), Cuisine TV, TPS Sport (Infosport), Sport+)
is leading on the pay-TV market. Canal+ plays an essential role in the satellite
distribution of free (TNTSat) or commercial (CanalSat or Canal+) digital channels.
CanalSat is the largest distributor of satellite digital channels ever since its founding.
190
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 49 FR: National audience share of digital terrestrial television channels of
June 2011
Main TV Stations
TF1
France 2
M6
France 3
TMC
France 5
W9
Canal Plus
NRJ12
Direct 8
France 4
Gulli
NT1
Arte
BFM TV
Direct Star
ITV
Broadcasters
TF1 Group
France Télévisions
M6 Group
France Télévisions
TF1 Group
France Télévisions
Edi TV (M6)
Canal+ SA
NRJ TV
Bolloré Média
France Télévisions
Jeunesse TV (Lagardère-France Télévisions)
TF1 Group
Arte France
BFM TV
Bolloré Média
SESI (Canal+)
Total Market Share 2011
in %
23.3
15.2
10.5
9.6
3.6
3.2
3.1
3.0
2.6
2.4
2.1
2.1
2.0
1.6
1.5
1.4
0.9
Source: Médiamétrie
11.2.3.
Press and Publishing
At the end of 2010 there were 16 national dailies, 52 regional, 43 Sunday papers and
several regional weeklies being published in France. 60
The national daily newspaper market is dominated by three main groups. 61
“Socpresse” (formerly part of the Robert Hersant empire) was owned until 2006 by the
Dassault group (87%) and Robert Hersant’s granddaughter (Aude Reuttard, 13%).
“Socpresse” is now wholly owned by the industrialist Serge Dassault. It publishes “le
Figaro”, all its supplements and various specialized titles. However, Socpresse has
completely divested from the regional daily press. The magazine “L’Express” and
“L’Expension” were also sold to the Belgian Roularta group.
The Amaury group publishes the dailies Le Parisien, Aujourd’hui en France, and l’Equipe
(sports paper) and several sports magazines (France Football, Vélo Magazine). It is also
the owner of the sports television channel l’Equipe TV.
The third group is the Le Monde-La vie Group, which publishes the popular daily Le
Monde. Since the merger with PVC (Publications de La Vie catholique) at the end of last
year, the group owns 43 press titles, magazines, books and libraries. 62 Regional dailies
(Midi Libre, The Independent and Press-Centre) belong ever since to the Sud-Ouest
group. “Monde libre” controls 59.55% share of the group since 2 November 2010 (date
of capitalization) and is owned by Pierre Bergé, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse. Prisa
owns 20% of the “Monde libre”, the other three shareholders having the remaining 80%.
The Lagardère group exercised its right to withdraw and is no longer shareholder of “Le
60
61
62
OJD figures.
Emmanuelle Machet, Country report France, Study on “the information of the citizen in the
for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively
European Institute for the Media, 2003, P. 76 et seq.
Emmanuelle Machet, country report France, Study on “the information of the citizen in the
for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively
European Institute for the Media, 2004, p. 76 et seq.
191
EU: obligations
informed”, The
EU: obligations
informed”, The
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Monde” but it remains a shareholder of the “Monde interactif” (subsidiary managing the
group’s internet activities). At the end of a backup procedure in late December 2011, the
owner of “France Soir”, Alexander Pougachev, decided to stop the print edition in order to
make a free daily which is to 100% digital.
Table 50 FR: Main publishers of daily newspapers
Publishing
companies
Groupe Amaury
Socpresse
Le Monde SA
Libération
Groupe Les Echos
L’Humanité
New York Times
Ownership Structure
Amaury family (75 %)
Lagardère Active (25 %)
Groupe Industriel Dassault
Main Titles
Market Share
L’Equipe
Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France
Le Figaro
Paris Turf
Le Monde libre
(Niel/Bergé/Pigasse/Prisa
Le Monde
Edouard de Rothschild (38 %)
Carlo Caracciolo (30 %)
Personnel
LVMH
Valérie Decamp (80 %)
Alain Weill (20 %)
Libération
DFP 2010
(in copies)
302,147
169,227
316,732
56,452
286,348
113,099
Les Echos
115,706
La Tribune
68,813
Alexandre Pougatchev
France Soir
Société des lectrices et lecteurs
de l’Humanité (20 %)
Société Humanité
Investissements Pluralisme
(Hachette-TF1L’Humanité
Caisse d’Epargne) (20 %)
Société des
personnels de
l’Humanité (10 %)
Société des
Amis de
l’Humanité (10 %)
Internat. Herald Tribune
74,531
48,118
19,603
* Figures : Diffusion France Payée (DFP) 2010, OJD/Stratégies les chiffres clés 2010.
At the regional level, there are many large press groups that also have interests or
subsidiaries in radio, advertising and multimedia products. The Ouest France Group
publishes the top selling newspaper Ouest France, with 2231 regular readers and 47 local
editions distributed in Normandy, Brittany and the Loire. It owns about 60 paid local
newspaper titles and has interests in free press (50% in 20 minutes France SA). Through
its subsidiary Publihebdos, it also owns 58 weekly newspapers. In 2005, the groupe
acquired three dailies from Socpresse (Le Courrier de l’ouest, Presse-Océan, Le Maine
libre).
Groupe Sud Ouest publishes several newspapers (dailies and weeklies), and magazines.
It has a 6% share in the Spanish Group Correo and is also involved in television (TV7
Bordeaux). However, in 2010, the group stopped making business in the field of free
advertising.
In France, Lagardère Active is particularly strong in the field of women’s magazines and
television journals. In the field of the daily press, Lagardère Active owns several outlets
192
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
in the South East of France. 63 In 2010, the group announced the assignment agreement
of the business in international magazines and the digital television channel. “Virgin 17”
was also sold at the end of May 2010. In 2007, it sold the regional daily “La Provence” to
the Hersant group (127317 – DFP 2010).
The group “Est Bourgogne Rhône Alpes” (formerly “Groupe Est Républicain”) publishes
many regional dailies, and also has interests in advertising, free press, and television
(Télé Lyon Métropole et M6 Nancy until it closed). In 2006, after it repurchased RhôneAlpes from Socpresse, it became the main group of French Regional daily press.
The group Centre France – La Montagne also is active in television (Clermont Première).
From 2009 to 2011, the group «Centre France continues to grow by incorporating
L’Yonne Républicaine (Auxerre), La République du Centre (Orléans) and L’Echo
Républicain (Chartres). Today, the group Centre France distributes more than 400.000
copies per day and has an audience of more than 1.3 million of readers daily.
63
Emmanuelle Machet, country report France, Study on “the information of the citizen in the EU: obligations
for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed”, The
European Institute for the Media, 2004, p. 77 et seq.
193
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 51 FR: Main Publishing Companies of regional press
Publishing
companies
Groupe Ouest
France
Socpresse
Groupe Sud Ouest
Ownership Structure
Main Titles
SIPA (Société d'Investissements
et de Participations) which is
ownedby l'Association pour le
Soutien des
Principes de la Démocratie
Humaniste
(association loi 1901)
Dassault
80 % Lemoine family
20 % members of the staff
Lagardère Active
Lagardère
Groupe Rossel
Groupe Rossel - VNI Crédit agricole
Sud Ouest
La Charente Libre
La République des
Pyrénées
Midi Libre
L’indépendant
293,072
36,285
32,269
136,795
59,328
106,213
72,601
265,173
La Nouvelle République du 188,381
Centre Ouest
187,836
La Montagne
41,719
Le Populaire du Centre
Le Berry Républicain
35,801
Le Journal du Centre
L’Echo républicain
28,781
Fondation Varenne
Groupe Est
Bourgogne
Rhône Alpes (EBRA)
97,627
33,470
45,574
Nice-Matin
Var-Matin
La Voix du Nord
Groupe NRCO
Centre France –
La Montagne
Ouest France
La Presse de la Manche
Le Courrier de l’ouest
Presse Océan
Le Maine libre
DFP 2010
(in copies)
757,115
24,033
L’Est Républicain
Dernières Nouvelles
d’Alsace
Le Progrès-La Tribune
Le Dauphine Libéré
Crédit mutuel
Famille Lignac
Philippe Hersant
27,934
154,543
171,663
207,270
231,324
* Figure : Diffusion France Payée (DFP) 2010, OJD/Stratégies les chiffres clés 2010.
11.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Table 52 FR: Main services of video on demand on the French market
CanalPlay (group Canal Plus)
Free Home Vidéo (Free)
iTunes (Apple)
24/24 Vidéo d'Orange (Orange)
Club Vidéo de SFR (SFR)
TF1 Vision (group TF1)
Source: Idate, July 2011
194
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 53 FR: Catch-up TV services of the five main channels (ranked by viewing
figures)
TF1
TF1 replay
France 2
Pluzz*
France 3
Pluzz
M6
M6 Replay
Canal Plus
Canal Plus à la demande (réservé aux abonnés)
* Pluzz also allows reviewing the programs of France 4, France 5 and France Ô.
Source: Idate, July 2011
France Televisions launched Pluzz.fr and Pluzz on “Orange” and on “Free” in July 2010
catching up with the delay in this matter on TF1, M6 and Arte that have such services.
This offer allows viewers to review most of the programmes of all channels of France
Television (France 2, France 3, France4, France 5, France Ô and the overseas network)
for free during usually seven days.
11.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
The group AB offers a range of channels via satellite (BIS Televisions) since December
2007.
Orange offers satellite television complementary to its multi-service on DSL since August
2008.
Finally, Fransat (controlled by Eutelsat) broadcasts via satellite free DTT channels since
2009.
Since August 2007, “Numericable” has been the only operator gathering the old networks
“France Télécom Câble”, “NC Numericable”, “UPC”, “Noos” and “Est Vidéo
Communication” and “thereby completing the concentration of the sector started in the
2000s.” 64 The number of households connected to cable TV is between 3.4 and 3.7
million, of which nearly 1.5 million receive the mere/basic “antenna service”
(corresponding to the resumption of terrestrial channels available in the area). The
number of broadband internet access via cable has risen sharply since 2004.
DSL TV, which has strongly grown since its launch in 2003, is marketed by main internet
service providers in connection with offers called “triple play” which combine high speed
internet access, local and national (even international) telephony and television. All the
DSL television offers (SFR, Free, Alice, Orange, Darty, Bouygues) involve a basic offering
of at least fifty free channels when a multi-service offer is subscribed (including the free
DTT channels) and the ability to subscribe to optional channels by unit or channel
packages (mostly foreign) composed by the operators. 11.3 million of the 22 million
subscribers to internet with high or very high speed (20.5 million by DSL) are coupled
with a TV offering. 65 7.4 million households use the internet (DSL or optical fibre) to
watch terrestrial broadcast television (DTT). 66
64
65
66
Le Guide des chaînes numériques, 9th edition, February 2011.
Source: Observatoire trimestriel des marchés des communications électroniques en France de l’ARCEP –
2nd quarter of 2011.
Source: Médiamétrie, September 2011.
195
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The digital channels are also available on mobile phones in the offerings of mobile
operators such as Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécom. The notion of “connected TV”
also includes game consoles (70% of the households have a console that can be
connected to the internet), tablets (1.3 million tablets were in French households in
2010) and internet-enabled TV (2.4 million internet-enabled TVs were in France in
2010). 67
11.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
Table 54 FR: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2010
Media
In billion Euros
Market Share in %
National dailies
0.266
2.5
Regional dailies
0.962
9.0
Magazines
1.215
11.3
Spécialised press
0.400
3.7
Free press
0.719
6.7
Regional weeklies
0.129
1.2
Total publishing
3.691
34.4
Television
3.441
32.1
Outdoor
1.188
11.1
Radio
0.744
6.9
Cinema
0.090
0.8
Internet (Display)
0.540
5.0
Sources: Irep-France Pub 2010.
According to the “Institut de recherches et d’études publicitaires” (IREP) in 2011, the
advertising market continues at a slower pace the restart that began in 2010. The
communication costs of advertisers increased by + 1.9% (against 3.4% in 2010 vs. 8.6% in 2009) and reached 31.4 billion Euro. Media advertising revenue is stabilizing at
+ 0.1% (against 3.9% in 2010 vs. -12.6% the previous year) and amounted to 10.7
billion euro. If one excludes the revenues of the free press whose major market player
(Comareg) disappeared during the year, the development is then +1.2%.
The mobile (+37.5%), cinema (+16.5%) and internet display (+14%) are the fastest
growing media before free press (+5.5%) and TV (+1.6%).
11.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
“Smart TV”, also called “connected TV”, 68 challenges the traditional regulations mainly
because of its rarity. It also calls into question the regulatory instruments based on
territoriality. Services regulated by the CSA co-exist with services from the internet for
which the regulatory authority is not competent (in case of services broadcast from other
countries and "user generated content" such as YouTube or Dailymotion). This
67
68
Source: Strategy Analytics (December 2010).
See in this regard "The connected TV," CANDILIS Takis, LEVRIER Philippe, MANIGNE Jérémie, ROGARD
Martin, TESSIER Marc, TROJETTE Mohammed Adnène, Ministry of Culture and Communication, La
Documentation française, September 2011.
196
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
coexistence is so well-working, that the mission of “Smart TV” said in a report to the
Minister of Culture in September 2011, that for the defence of freedom of audiovisual
communication it is now "more crucial to ensure the open access to networks than to
provide general restrictions on the broadcasting of services." The relevance of the rules
of control of concentrations is questioned, especially with regard to the maximum
number of authorizations for national television services one person can hold. The
Competition Authority thus had to intervene even though the maximum number of
channels was complied with (e.g. acquisition of TMC and NT1 by TF1; acquisition of
Direct 8 and Direct Star by Canal Plus). The report on "Smart TV" proposes to give "more
importance to audience share (real or potential) and market share made on different
broadcast media than to the number of controlled channels on the terrestrial network."
In addition, the report notes that three sets of rules could be simplified (those organizing
and quantifying the programming of cinematographic and audiovisual works on
television; those on advertising; those guaranteeing the pluralistic expression of
thoughts).
In a statement of 5 December 2011, the president of CSA, Michel Boyon, insisted that
four principles to which the Council is very committed should be respected. In particular,
he expressed the refusal of any reduction in the definition of areas which warrant
regulation (child welfare, dignity, consumer protection, pluralism, etc.). Relief from
certain rules imposed on the chains would instead concern media chronology, the
maximum concentration, or the circulation of works "without prejudicing the interests of
creators." The CSA also stresses the obligation to help finance the work for any company
deriving income from the exploitation of the work. Finally, the regulatory authority
advocates the development of a co-regulation with professionals for audiovisual content
circulating on the internet.
The new services call for an individual solution based on freedom of choice of the viewer.
The development of these new services enhances access to information primarily on a
quantitative level. In this respect, the flexibility of the regulatory authority is reduced to
control all programmes broadcast by conventional means parallel to those terrestrially
broadcast (cable, satellite, DSL ...). This difficulty is compounded where the programs
received by viewers are of foreign origin (is it appropriate to create a European
regulatory body?).
The multitude of titles in print or audiovisual services allows the public to make their
choice. However, the market structure of the French media mainly remains oligopolistic.
Four to five groups stand out in each sector. In this respect, the decision of the
Competition Authority concerning the acquisition of TPS by Canal Plus is much
anticipated. The operation combined the pay-TV activities of TPS and CanalSat in Canal+
France. It gave complete control of both French satellite platforms to the Canal Plus
group and the Vivendi group of which it is a subsidiary. Those satellite platforms include
the whole business value chain of the pay TV sector: everything from the control over
the content to the access to the viewer. Therefore, the authorization of sole control of
TPS and CanalSatellite by the Vivendi group and the Canal Plus group in August 2006
was conditioned by the implementation of some fifty commitments which intend to
remedy the monopoly in publishing and marketing of premium channels of the new
entity. In September 2011, the Competition Authority found out that the parties had not
implemented ten of these commitments including the most significant and decided to
withdraw its authorization. The following month, the Vivendi group and the Canal Plus
group challenged the decision of the Authority before the State Council and at the same
time, they again notified of their takeover, as required by procedure. The decision of the
Competition Authority is expected after the ongoing investigation process.
197
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
As to public broadcasting, it should be noted that the suppression of advertising laid
down in the act of 5 March 2009 did not allow a real shift in the editorial line of France
Televisions. Most persons who were interviewed as part of the review of implementation
of the act considered that the audience remained a major challenge for the public
broadcasting group. 69 This finding is particularly reflected in poor development of
qualitative tools. The group's situation also remains fiscally insecure. The new funding
model is now largely dependent on a budget allocation negotiated by the State. The
proceeds of the tax on advertising on television are also much lower than that planned by
the reform. Finally, the legal basis for the tax on telecommunication services is
challenged. On 14 March 2011, the European Commission turned to the Court of Justice
of the European Union and asked to clarify the compatibility of Article 302 bis KH of the
Tax Code with the directive "authorization" of the "Telecom Package".
The audiovisual sector faced another problem: the allocation procedure of the radio
resource to mobile television has been a failure for the CSA which decided on 14
February 2012 to withdraw the permissions it had granted for the broadcasting of sixteen
television services in April 2010.
Technological change also impacts print media which must also cope with increasing
financial difficulties. This was evidenced by the recapitalization plans of the major
national dailies in 2010 (Libération and Le Monde). On 30 January 2012, La Tribune, the
second French business daily, published its last paper edition. That same day, the
Commercial Court of Paris accepted the offer made by the company Hi-Media and the
regional press group “France Economies Régions” 70 for the resumption of the daily which
was in insolvent restructuring since December. La Tribune, which has already changed
owners several times the last few years, will continue as a weekly (with a target
circulation of 100,000 copies) while there will be daily news on its website. This is the
second national newspaper that disappears after France Soir in December 2011.
In addition to the criticism on the institutional level, the "Hadopi" law has also many
enemies among supporters of Free Software. This hostility is especially expressed
through the association "April" or the organization of the defence of the rights and
freedoms on the Internet "La Quadrature du net". According to its co-founder, Gerald
Sédrati-Dinet, "it is impossible to effectively control the flow of information by law and
technology in the digital age without seriously undermining civil liberties and hamper
economic and social development". The collective says that, in addition to its inefficiency,
this regime "delays the inevitable debate on recognition of sharing and the establishment
of pooled funds controlled by users."
For now, it is clear that the scope of the regime is essentially symbolic. 71 It took nearly a
year after the publication of the Act of 28 October 2009 (Hadopi II) to publish the
decrees of application defining the offense of “gross negligence”. 72 The effectiveness of it
69
70
71
72
Rapport d’information n° 572 de MM. David Assouline et Jacques Legendre, fait au nom de la commission
pour le contrôle de l'application des lois, Sénat, 30 mai 2012.
France Economie Régions consists of five regional newspapers (Objectif Aquitaine, Objectif News MidiPyrénées, Objectif Languedoc-Roussillon, MéridienMag, Acteurs de l'Économie en Rhône-Alpes).
According to Marie-Françoise Marais, president of the Hadopi: in November 2011, there were 736,000
recommendations of first level. The number of recommendations for second level is 62,000. As for the
third level, there are 165 cases and “the Commission of rights protection wants to inform about them at
all costs.” “It convenes the persons and a genuine dialog is taking place again.” It depends on the
circumstances whether or not it transmits the files.
Decree No. 2010-695 of 25 June 2010 establishing a contravention of gross negligence protecting literary
and artistic property on the internet, OJ 26 June 2010, p 11536; decree No. 2010-872 of 26 July 2010 on
proceedings before the commission to protect the rights of the High Authority for the dissemination of
works and the protection of rights on the internet, OJ of 27 July 2010, p. 13874. Contravention of “gross
negligence” is recognized when: the subscriber has failed without good cause to establish a means of
198
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
is subject to the development of a legally pertinent offer (41 platforms have applied the
label). However, the mechanism of labelling offers 73 is of particular complexity.
“The provisions currently in force do not give any satisfaction,” says Marie-Christine
Blandin in a report dated 20 March 2012 on behalf of the Committee on Culture,
Education and Communication of the Senate, entitled “How to reconcile internet freedom
and remuneration of creators.” “A few years ago, the protagonists of downloading
controls and sanctions by the DADVSI Act (copyright and related rights in the information
society 74) have in fact quickly realized the impossibility of its application while consumer
advocates joined the ranks of the outraged defenders of civil liberties,“ says the Senator
who also stresses “the excessiveness of the sanctions.” The Senator expressed her
doubts about a system in which it is the duty of the accused to prove his innocence and
in which the proof of innocence consists of providing proof of purchase and installation of
firewall devices from a company if these devices are incompatible with the free version of
the software.”
73
74
security or lack of diligence in the implementation of this means, while (i) he had previously received two
recommendations of the Hadopi, the first by electronic mail (email) and the second by email coupled with
a letter delivered against signature; and (ii) further acts of infringements were made from his internet
connection in the year following the receiving of the second recommendation.
See decree No. 2010-1366 of 10 November 2010 concerning the labeling of the offers of the
communication services to the public online and concerning the regulation of technical measures of
protection and identification of works and objects protected by copyright, OJ 13 November 2010, p.
20216, on this subject.
Droit d’auteur et des droits voisins dans la société de l’information.
199
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
12.
GERMANY
12.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
12.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
In Germany the constitution (Grundgesetz) is the basis for the protection of the freedom
of speech, but in addition to this, the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court 1
plays a considerable role. As mentioned in the study of 2004, the right of expression is
enshrined in Art. 5 para 1 s. 1 alt. 1 Grundgesetz 2. Specifically, the expressing,
spreading and the contents of opinion are protected in word, writing, picture and any
other conceivable form. The negative stamping of freedom of speech is protected, too.
The freedom of press is granted in Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 alt. 1 Grundgesetz. The free press
shall be protected in its entirety: all behavioural patterns which belong to the production
and spreading of a press product are protected. The protection of the confidentiality
relationship between press and private informants, including the secrecy of the source of
information, also belongs to the freedom of press. The BVerfG has clarified this in its
"Cicero 3-decision”. It held, that the search of a magazine’s editorial desk and the seizure
of evidence is an inadmissible violation of the freedom of press, if the investigations have
mainly purpose of determining the press informants.
In accordance with this, the BVerfG decided on 10 December 2010, that the basic right
enshrined in Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 alt. 2 Grundgesetz also protects the institutional
independence of broadcasters from the obtaining of information to its dissemination. This
includes the confidentiality of editorial work, which prohibited State bodies from gaining
insight into the working processes involved in producing reports. Organisational
documents containing details of work routines or the identity of editorial staff are also
covered by editorial confidentiality. While it was true that the order to search the
premises of the local broadcaster FSK for the audio recording and related documents did
not infringe the ban on seizure enshrined in Sec. 97 para 5 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure (StPO) 4, the proportionality of the measure was not entirely demonstrated. It
was necessary to weigh the actual interest of a criminal investigation against the
interference with broadcasting freedom that such a search would create. The effects of
such an investigation on the media organisation should be taken into account, since the
search of a broadcaster’s premises often disrupted the relationship of trust between the
broadcaster and its sources, and an unlimited search order had an extremely intimidating
effect on the media organisation concerned. The BVerfG also ruled that the taking of
photographs and drawings of the premises and the seizure of editorial documents as well
as the copying of those documents infringed broadcasting freedom, since there was no
obvious need for such measures. 5
1
2
3
4
5
Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG.
Grundgesetz, GG, availabe in English at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/index.html .
Bundesverfassungsgericht, decision of 27 February 2007 (1 BvR 538/06, 1 BvR 2045/06), available in
German at:
http://www.bverfg.de/entscheidungen/rs20070227_1bvr053806.html .
Strafprozessordnung, StPO, available in English at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stpo/index.html.
BVerfG, 1 BvR 1739/04, of 10 December 2010, available in German at:
200
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
In a decision on general principle, the BVerfG strengthened the rights of publishers. It
ruled that the right of reply to ambiguous remarks should not be adjucated if the breach
of personality rights is the result of only one possible interpretation of a text. This would
infringe the freedom of the media enshrined in Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 Grundgesetz. In its
reasoning, the Court said that in cases in which one does not know whether there is a
hidden meaning laying beneath the obvious one, decisions should have regard to the
principles for dealing with ambiguous remarks. The freedom of opinion is violated if a
court bases its decision on only one of the possible interpretations without first excluding
the other ones, which would not have justified a sanction. If a writer must fear that he
will be punished for making remarks even though the meaning of those remarks could be
interpreted in a way that would not lead to such a punishment, this could cause a
suppression of admissible comments and a form of intimidation that contradicts the basic
freedom of communication. Therefore, the Court ruled it was compatible with the
Constitution to only grant the right of reply if the hidden remarks that were the basis of
the complaint were understood by the reader as the undeniable message of the text.6
As stated, in Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 alt. 2 Grundgesetz, the freedom of broadcasting finds its
manifestation. It guarantees the freedom of all activities which are necessary for
broadcasting. The guarantee of the programme freedom shall assure an adequate supply
of the population with varied broadcasting offers as a basis of a free opinion-forming
process in the democratic community. The concept of broadcasting includes all modern
services such as pay-TV and teletext. 7
In 2007 the BVerfG decided, that the fixing of the licence fees for the period from 2005
to 2008 by the legislative bodies of the German Federal States (Länder) violated the
freedom to broadcast of the public service broadcasters (PSB). They argued about the
fact, that the Minister–President decided not to observe the recommendation of the
Commission for the Financial Needs of broadcasters (KEF) 8 to raise the future level of the
fees. The Court admitted, that most of the arguments of the Länder justified the action
taken by their legislative bodies. But it pronounced, that the justifications for the
arguments were insufficient and inaccurate. As a consequence of that, the BVerfG
declared the laws of the Länder, that contained the fixing of the licence fees, to be
incompatible with Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 alt. 2 Grundgesetz. Within this decision, the BVerfG
confirmed its previous jurisdiction about the freedom to broadcast. It emphasised, that
the programming autonomy is granted by the freedom to broadcast, too. In the
judgement was also confirmed that „the demands put up by the Federal Constitutional
Court to protect the freedom of broadcasting are not outdated by the development of
communication technology and media markets“. Because of the risk of a one-sided
influencing control on the public opinion-forming, the court makes further arrangements
to protect journalistic diversity. 9
In a BVerfG judgement of 12 March 2008 10, the Rules on the Involvement of Political
Parties in Private Broadcasting were set. The BVerfG explained that the legislator, which
was obliged under Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 Grundgesetz to guarantee freedom of broadcasting,
6
7
8
9
10
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rk20101210_1bvr173904.html; BVerfG, 1 BvR
2020/04 of 10 December 2010, available in German at:
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rk20101210_1bvr202004.html .
BVerfG, 1 BvR 967/05, of 19 December 2007, available in German at:
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rk20071219_1bvr096705.html.
Ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, BVerfGE 74, 297 [345].
Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten, KEF.
Decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, 11 September 2007 (1 BvR 2270/05, 1 BvR 809/06 and 1
BvR 830/06).
BVerfG, 2 BvF 4/03, of 12 March 2008, available in German at:
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/fs20080312_2bvf000403.html.
201
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
had, on the one hand, creative leeway to regulate the involvement of political parties in
private broadcasting, because it is necessary to prevent any form of political influence of
broadcasting. It was therefore free to prohibit the involvement of political parties in
private broadcasting if they were able to have a determining influence on programme
organisation or content. On the other hand, an absolute restraint on the ownership of
shares in private broadcasting companies by political parties is not an admissible
legislative means of protecting broadcasting freedom, if it is regardless of whether the
parties were able to exercise any influence at all on the broadcasting company. The
judges determined that there is a need of protecting the relevant legal positions of the
parties, broadcasters and broadcasting licence applicants, in the organisation of
broadcasting regulations. They further explained that such an absolute restraint is
restricting the rights of the parties, to participate in the formation of the political will of
the people by exercising the freedom of communication, including freedom to broadcast
enshrined in Art. 5 para 1 s. 2 in connection with Art. 21 para 1 s. 1 Grundgesetz.
However, there is no need of such a strict ban to safeguard the diversity of opinion, since
it is not clear whether minority shareholdings that did not provide any determining
influence could harm diversity of opinion in broadcasting. 11
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The freedom of information is enshrined separately in Art 5 para 1 s. 1 alt. 2
Grundgesetz. It entails the freedom to inform oneself from generally accessible sources,
including the possibility to gain State information which is administered by authorities
and publicly available.
A specific aspect of the freedom of the person is enshrined in the “basic right to a
guarantee of the confidentiality and integrity of IT-systems” as a particular manifestation
of the general personality right enshrined in Art. 2 para 1 Grundgesetz. According to a
BVerfG judgement of 27 February 2008 12, computers owned by people who are
suspected of committing a criminal offence may only be picked up by using spying
software if there is a special need for the protection of extremely important general
interests. The court emphasised the importance of the use of IT-systems for the
development of the personality and from the risks to the personality associated with that
use that there was a considerable need for basic rights to be protected. It stated that an
interference with this right might be justified for reasons of prevention as well as
prosecution of crimes but the secret infiltration of an IT-system is only allowed if there is
actual evidence of a concrete danger to a very important legally protected interest (such
as life and limb and individual freedom). In addition, the court called, inter alia, for the
secret intrusion into IT-systems to be subject to a judicial order and for precautions to
protect the core sphere of private life.
11
12
BVerfG, (1 BvR 967/05), of 19 December 2007 available in German at:
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rk20071219_1bvr096705.html.
BVerfG, 1 BvR 370/07, of 27 February 2008, available in German at:
http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rs20080227_1bvr037007.html.
202
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
There are no explicit specific safeguards on Regulatory Authorities in the German
Constitution. However, media regulatory authorities are considered to be encompassed
by the freedom of broadcasting as stipulated in Art. 5 GG.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
In the German Constitution, Art. 87f provides a universal service entitlement in the range
of telecommunication and postal services. Besides, it is derived from the freedom of
broadcasting according to Art. 5 GG, for the part of PSB, that they must ensure a
universal coverage both in terms of content and as far as technical distribution (and
possibility to receive programmes) are concerned.
12.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
Media legislation in Germany is characterised by the principle of federalism, which means
that it is primarily in the remit of the Länder and a nation-wide legislation in this area has
to be negotiated between these. In the field of broadcasting this has been made by the
agreement of a (nation-wide) Interstate Treaty, supplemented by media laws of the
Länder. In the print sector there is no press legislation on a national level.
Private broadcasters need a license which allows them to operate radio or television
programmes. In principle, this applies to national, regional and local broadcasters
regardless of whether the particular programme is distributed via satellite, cable or
antenna. Notwithstanding this principle, the Länder may – within their legal responsibility
– allow for simplified licensing procedures (for programmes connected locally or
temporally to a certain public event or to a certain institution) or even desist from the
licence obligation (programmes aimed to a limited number of housing units or in
institutions restricted to one building). The legal requirements for licensing are set up in
the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RStV) 13 as far as nation-wide programme offers are
concerned (see Art. 20 et seq. RStV). For other programmes relevant legislation can be
found in the Media Laws of the Länder (Landesmediengesetze, LMG and the Inter State
Media Treaties (Medienstaatsverträge) agreed between Berlin and Brandenburg and
between Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein) 14. Furthermore, it is said that such a license
shall not be granted to e.g. political parties or regional administrative bodies 15.
Radio programmes which are transmitted via Internet only, are not required to have a
license, but have to notify the competent Länder authority of their service (Art. 20b
RStV). In this context it should be noted that Art. 2 para 3 RStV excepts certain offers
from the “Broadcasting”-term, these are such that: (1) are offered to fewer than 500
potential users for simultaneous reception in any case; (2) are destined for the
immediate reproduction from reception equipment storage media; (3) exclusively serve
13
14
15
Rundfunkstaatsvertrag, RStV, available in English at:
http://www.die-medienanstalten.de/fileadmin/Download/Rechtsgrundlagen/Gesetze_aktuell/13._RStVenglisch.pdf.
An overview on the Landesmediengesetze is available at:
http://www.die-medienanstalten.de/service/rechtsgrundlagen/landesmediengesetze.html.
See – as an example – Sec. 13 of the LMG of Baden-Württemberg, available in German at:
http://www.lfk.de/fileadmin/media/recht/2011/LmedienG_2011_Oktober.pdf.
203
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
personal or family purposes; (4) are not journalistic edited offers; or (5) consist of
programmes which are each activated against individual payment.
Art. 54 et seq. RStV contain provisions concerning providers of online services. According
to these provisions providers of telemedia in the meaning of the law do not require any
license or notification. The same is true under Sec. 4 Telemedia Act (TMG) 16. Certain
preconditions concerning the content remain unaffected by this freedom (see below).
The remit of public service broadcasting (PSB) is provided for in Art. 11 RStV. This
provision determines the general requirements put on PSB in order to fulfil their public
tasks 17. The following provisions deal with other aspects of PSB, as their offers (i.e. radio
and television services as well as telemedia under the RStV and the respective LMG), the
television services in detail, permitted telemedia and funding. According to Art. 13 RStV
PSB in Germany are funded primarily by licence fees, but they also generate income from
advertising and product placement. In December 2010 the 15th Treaty Amending the
Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RÄStV) 18 was signed by the Länder and it will enter into
force on 1 January 2013. This agreement will fundamentally change the financing system
of PSB. While up to now, the licence fee depends on the ownership of a reception device
it will in future be based on the ownership of a home, place of business or non-privately
used vehicle (so called “Haushaltsbeitrag”) 19. Some of the LMG include provisions on the
public remit, too, see for example Sec. 23 of the LMG of Saarland 20. Besides this, there
exist legislation concerning the respective broadcasters which describe the public remit
and make reference to the RStV 21.
As mentioned above, there is no press legislation on a national level in Germany, but
Press and/or Media Laws adopted by the Länder 22. Although these Laws differ in detail
they coincide with each other in the main parts. The press/media laws of the Länder,
determine that press activities including the establishment of a publishing company or an
undertaking of the press industry should not be made conditional of any authorisation.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
Ownership and participation regulations relevant for the media sector in Germany are to
be found on different levels.
Under the federal competence the Act Against Restraints of Competition (GWB) 23
contains general, cross-sectoral antitrust provisions. Sec. 30 GWB (Resale Price
Maintenance for Newspapers and Magazines) takes out from the general prohibition of
agreements restricting competition (under Sec. 1 GWB) the vertical resale price
maintenance by which an undertaking producing newspapers or magazines requires the
purchasers of these products by legal or economic means to demand certain resale prices
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Telemediengesetz (TMG), available in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/tmg/BJNR017910007.html.
The “public remit” as such is treated in more detail in the chapter below.
15th Rundfunkänderungsstaatsvertrag, RÄStV, available in German at:
http://www.rlp.de/ministerpraesident/staatskanzlei/medien .
“15th Inter-State Broadcasting Agreement Signed” by A. Yliniva-Hoffmann, IRIS Legal Observations 20112/20.
Saarländisches Mediengesetz, available in German at:
http://www.lmsaar.de/die-lms/rechtsgrundlagen/I_2_SMG.pdf.
As an example Bayerisches Rundfunkgesetz, available in German at:
http://www.br.de/unternehmen/inhalt/organisation/bayerisches-rundfunkgesetz100.html.
An overview of these Acts is available in German at:
http://www.presserecht.de/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=4&id=14&Itemid=2
6.
Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, GWB, available in English at: http://www.gesetze-iminternet.de/englisch_gwb/englisch_gwb.html.
204
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
or to impose the same commitment upon their own customers, down to the resale to the
final consumer. The control of concentration is governed by Sec. 35 GWB et seq. The
threshold as of which the provisions at hand are applicable is to be determined according
to the respective turnover of the last business year preceding the planned concentration.
With regard to the calculation of the relevant turnover and market shares the GWB
foresees that for the publication, production and distribution of newspapers, magazines
and parts thereof and for the production, distribution and broadcasting of radio and
television programmes and the sale of radio and television advertising time, the twentyfold amount of the turnover shall be taken into account. This means that concentrations
in the media sector are subject to stricter statutory provisions than in other branches of
the economy. The idea behind this is to prevent dominant positions in the media and
opinion-making markets. At this point it should be mentioned that, in November 2011,
the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology 24 proposed an amendment to the
GWB, amongst others to the rules concerning the described threshold and its
calculation 25. According to the proposal the multiplier “twenty” as relevant for the
turnover calculation shall be reduced to “eight”. In absolute numbers this would mean a
rise of the threshold from EUR 25 Mio. to EUR 62,5 Mio. This shall make it easier for
press companies to secure their competitiveness and financial fundament by merger.
Particularly small and medium-size companies would benefit from this change, but not
the big publishers. It is argued that press companies are particularly affected by the
technological and economical changes in the media sector – especially due to
digitalisation – and should therefore be strengthened. The competent cartel authorities
are the Bundeskartellamt, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the
supreme Länder authorities 26. The allocation of responsibilities is regulated in Sec. 48 et
seq. GWB.
An important decision in this field was the one concerning the planned merger of the
broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 and the Axel Springer AG (leading German multi-media
company) in 2006. The Bundeskartellamt prohibited the planned merger due to concerns
about competition. Axel Springer AG's appeal against this decision was initially rejected
by the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf Regional Appeal Court) as inadmissible.
The Axel Springer AG successfully appealed to the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Supreme
Court) against this ruling and the matter was referred back to the Oberlandesgericht
Düsseldorf. The latter rejected the company's request for a declaratory judgement on 3
December 2008 as unfounded, but left its decision open to appeal. The
Bundesgerichtshof confirmed, on 8 June 2010, the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf's
decision 27. The companies involved in the planned merger would have formed an
oligopoly with a dominant market position and would have represented more than 80%
of the German television advertising market. It was therefore likely that this oligopoly
would have been strengthened further if the merger had been approved. The merger ban
imposed by the Bundeskartellamt had therefore been lawful 28.
24
25
26
27
28
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, BMWi, see: http://www.bmwi.de.
The Bill “Entwurf des BMWi für ein Achtes Gesetz zur Änderung des Gesetzes gegen
Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen”, available in German at:
http://www.bmwi.de/BMWi/Redaktion/PDF/G/gwbnovelle,property=pdf,bereich=bmwi,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf.
An overview on the competition authorities of the Länder is available at:
http://www.bundeskartellamt.de/wDeutsch/service/LKB.php.
Decision of the Bundesgerichtshof of 8 June 2008, KVR 4/07, available at:
http://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgibin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&sid=121d6152e0faa8fa7b5abf5e6f0ef025&nr=421
97&pos=0&anz=1.
“BGH Confirms Ban on Merger between Springer and ProSiebenSat1” by A. Yliniva-Hoffmann, IRIS Legal
Observations 2010-7/12.
205
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The RStV includes the basic rules concerning public and commercial broadcasters in the
dual broadcasting system of the Länder, thus, also provisions concerning admissibility of
and control over the investment of broadcasters in other companies. Art. 16a et seq.
RStV prescribe that PSB are – under certain conditions – allowed to be commercially
active, through legally independent subsidiaries and at market conditions. Such activities
must be approved by the competent councils of the broadcasting corporations prior to
their commencement. The PSB are permitted to take out direct or indirect shareholdings
in companies pursuing a commercial or otherwise economic business purpose. A
prerequisite is, however, that this shareholding is in pertinent connection to their legal
tasks, the respective company is constructed as a legal person and the statute or the
articles of association of the company provide for a supervisory board or comparable
body. In case of an investment in a company, the broadcasting corporations are required
to secure the necessary influence upon the management of the company in an
appropriate manner, in particular, an appropriate presentation in supervisory bodies.
Further, the PSB have to establish an effective control system regarding their
shareholdings. The Director General (Intendant) must notify the respective competent
supervisory body of the broadcasting corporation regularly of such operations and report
annually to the supervisory body on the shareholdings. This report is submitted to the
respective competent audit offices and the State Government exercising legal
supervision, too. The commercial activities are controlled as well. The PSB must not
assume any liability for associated companies pursuing commercial activities.
With regard to commercial broadcasters the RStV stipulates in Art. 25 et seq. how
plurality of opinion shall be ensured. This shall happen by creating broadcasting content
that provides the major political, ideological and social forces and groups adequate
opportunity for expression in the general channels and takes minority views into account,
too. Furthermore, the two general channels transmitted nationally with the largest
audience reach shall incorporate window services providing up to date, authentic
presentations of the political, economic, social and cultural life in the respective State.
The editorial independence of the window service provider shall be guaranteed and it
shall be granted a separate license.
In addition to that it shall also be prevented that a television broadcaster acquires
dominant power of opinion. Such a dominant power of opinion is measured according to
annual average audience share (see Sec. 26 para 2 RStV). In the event that a television
company has acquired dominant power of opinion, no further services attributable to it
may be permitted, nor may the acquisition of further participating interests in
broadcasters attributable to it be admitted. Along with this, the State media authority
shall together with the Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) 29 and involving
the television broadcaster elaborate measures in order to reduce audience share or
market power of the respective company. If an agreement cannot be found, the State
media authorities shall – as last resort – revoke the licenses of as many of the services
attributable to the company as may be required to ensure that the undertaking no longer
exercises dominant power of opinion. Under Art. 29 RStV the competent State media
authority must be notified of any planned change in participating interests or other
influences prior to their implementation. Measures the television broadcaster can take in
order to ensure plurality are the concession of broadcasting time to independent third
parties and the establishment of a programme advisory council, see Art. 30 et seq. RStV.
29
Kommission zur Ermittlung der Konzentration im Medienbereich, Art. 35 para 2 RStV; information on the
KEK are available in English at: http://www.kek-online.de/cgi-bin/esc/englisch.html.
206
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Besides this, the media laws of the Länder can determine further measures to preserve
and promote media diversity 30.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The RStV contains in its first part general provisions applying to both public service and
commercial broadcasting, as on short news reporting, European productions, advertising
principles, consumer protection and the right to information. Art. 11 et seq. RStV include
the provisions for public service broadcasting. They refer to the Länder broadcasting
corporations forming the association of public-service broadcasters in Germany 31, the
second national public-service broadcasting corporation 32 and the national
Deutschlandradio 33.
According to these the public remit (Art. 11) is defined as follows:
(1) Under their remit, the public-service broadcasting corporations are to act as a
medium and factor in the process of the formation of free individual and public
opinion through the production and transmission of their offers, thereby serving the
democratic, social and cultural needs of society. In their offers, the public-service
broadcasting corporations must provide a comprehensive overview of international,
European, national and regional events in all major areas of life. [...] Entertainment
should also be provided in line with a public-service profile of offers.
(2) The public-service broadcasting corporations in fulfilling their remit shall pay due
respect to the principles of objectivity and impartiality in reporting, plurality of
opinion and the balance of their offers.
Subsequently, it is determined which kind of programme PSB generally may offer (radio,
television, certain telemedia and print publications with programme-related content) and
afterwards itemised which programmes these are in particular.
With regard to the online activities (telemedia) of PSB Art. 11d 34 para 1 RStV
determines:
„(1) The state broadcasting corporations forming the ARD association, the ZDF and
Deutschlandradio shall provide telemedia as necessitated from a journalistic or
editorial point of view as journalistic edited offers.“
Hence, this makes clear that offering telemedia is to be seen as a part of the public remit
of PSB, as far as these contribute to the shaping of public opinion. In the following
paragraphs it is described in more detail which kind of content (programme-related), for
which period (e.g. seven-days-catch-up) and for which purposes (especially the
participation of all groups of society in the information society) are allowed to be offered.
Press-type offers not related to a programme are not permitted in order to avoid
competitive advantages of the licence fee financed PSB over the press. With regard to
the continuous extension of such offers by the PSB this legal prohibition, however, was in
practice not sufficient to avoid conflicts between the both sectors. Furthermore, Art. 11d
para 5 prohibits advertising and sponsoring as well as acquired feature films and
30
31
32
33
34
See for instance Sec. 23 of the Landesmediengesetz Rheinland-Pfalz, available in German at:
http://www.lmk-online.de/service/rechtsgrundlagen/landesmediengesetz/#c2267.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesrundfunkanstalten, ARD.
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, ZDF.
Deutschlandradio, DRadio.
This was introduced by the 12th Agreement Amending the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (RÄStV);
see “12th Broadcasting Agreement Signed” by A. Yliniva-Hoffmann, IRIS Legal Observations 2009-2/15.
207
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
episodes of television series which have not been commissioned in telemedia. The annex
to Art. 11d para 5 RStV includes a negative list of public service telemedia. The PSB shall
further concretise the content and direction of their telemedia in so-called telemedia
concepts 35.
A new or modified telemedia can be introduced under certain conditions, only. Due to the
potential of conflict that is connected to the permission of licence fee financed online
services – particularly with regard to the press – the so called “Drei-Stufen-Test”
(Art. 11f RStV) was introduced. In accordance with this, the respective PSB has – for a
planned new offer or a planned modification of an existing offer – to set out to the
competent council that the offer at hand fits the requirements of its public remit.
Following to this the council has to examine pursuant to the mentioned test, whether this
is the case: In a first step it shall analyse to what degree the offer conforms to the
democratic, social and cultural needs of society, which can be seen as a concretion of the
„public remit“-condition. After that, the council has to check to what degree the offer
contributes to editorial competition in a qualitative manner, taking into consideration the
quantity and quality of the existing, freely accessible offers, the impact of the planned
offer on the market and its function regarding the formation of opinion in the light of
existing comparable offers including those of public service broadcasting. Thus, this
second step of the “Drei-Stufen-Test“ can be considered as the main emphasis of the
examination. In a final step it shall be controlled what financial expenditure is required
for the offer which means that the cost must not be out of proportion to the journalistic
added value.
It should be noted at this point that Art. 54 et seq. RStV provide for further rules
concerning all telemedia, not only those of the PSB. These include general provisions,
certain obligations for the providers as well as content-related regulation and shall
therefore be described in the relevant chapter below.
The funding of PSB (Art. 12 et seq. RStV) has to be adequate and sufficient in order to
ensure that PSB are able to fulfil their public tasks. The funding is in the first line based
on device-dependent license fees (as to the amendments entering into force on 1
January 2013 with a move to the so called “Haushaltsabgabe”, see above). The financial
requirements are regularly reviewed and determined by the independent commission
assessing the funding requirements of public service broadcasting (KEF) by taking into
account the principles of efficiency and economy including the related potentials for
rationalisation. The amount of the license fee as well as the calculation of the needs are
determined under two other Interstate Treaties 36.
In addition to these fees PSB are – within limits – permitted to obtain revenues from
product placement, advertising and sponsoring but not from teleshopping (Art. 15, 16,
18 RStV).
As described above, PSB are – under certain legal preconditions as provided for in
Art. 16a et seq. RStV – also entitled to perform commercial activities through legally
independent subsidiaries at market conditions.
35
36
Telemedia concepts of the ARD are available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/onlineangebote/dreistufentest/-/id=1086834/qvxjpw/index.html;
Telemedia concepts of the ZDF are available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/index.php?id=475; telemedia concept of DRadio is available in German
at: http://www.dradio.de/download/107686.
Rundfunkgebührenstaatsvertrag,
RGebStV,
available
in
German
at:
http://www.diemedienanstalten.de/fileadmin/Download/Rechtsgrundlagen/Gesetze_aktuell/RGebStV_10.pdf
;
Rundfunkfinanzierungsstaatsvertrag,
RFinStV,
available
in
German
at:
http://www.diemedienanstalten.de/fileadmin/Download/Rechtsgrundlagen/Gesetze_aktuell/RFinStV_11.pdf.
208
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
According to Art. 11e RStV PSB shall enact statutes or directives detailing the execution
of their respective remit as well as specifying the procedures governing the development
of offer-concepts and the procedure governing new or modified telemedia, and are
obliged to report regularly on the fulfilment of their respective remit, on the quality and
quantity of the existing offers as well as on the focus of the respective planned offers.
Such directives on the different aspects of the execution of the public remit have been
established and published by the ARD 37, ZDF 38 and DRadio in accordance with the RStV.
Some of the State broadcasting corporations united in the ARD have issued own
directives 39. The ARD has published its last report on the fulfilment of its remit, on the
quality and quantity of its telemedia offers and on the planned focus 40, in December
2010. This report holds out in its future prospects (item 13) an extension of telemedia
offers and of the use of mobile terminal devices. The ZDF has published its programme
perspectives 2011-2012, which according to the ZDF-statute 41 shall include the duty to
report under the RStV 42. The named ZDF report reveals what is planned in 2011-2012
(online offers are described in item 7) and holds out the prospect of a report on the
fulfilment of the obligations for mid-2012. So, too, DRadio has published its report on the
programme achievements and perspectives of the national radio broadcasting 20112012 43, which in its item 16 comments the past and planned online activities as well as
the review of these according to the described “Drei-Stufen-Test”.
Supplement to the Interstate Treaties described above there are the ARD-Treaty 44 and –
Statute 45 and –Television Treaty 46, the ZDF-Treaty 47 and –Statute 48 as well as the
DRadio-Treaty 49. The Treaties complement the RStV, for instance concerning the
collaboration of the State broadcasting corporations within the association of the ARD
and the organisation, content and other obligations (ZDF and DRadio). The Statutes are
the respective founding documents which primarily deal with aspects of internal structure
and cooperation and external representation.
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
ARD-Leitlinien 11/12, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/-/id=2447794/property=download/nid=1886/acfjvv/ARDLeitlinien1112%2BBericht0910.pdf.
Overview on the internal regulations concerning the ZDF is available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/index.php?id=15.
See as one example the terms of reference of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), available in German
at:
http://www.rbb-online.de/unternehmen/organisation/grundlagen/die_zielvorgaben_des.file.pdf.
Bericht der ARD über die Erfüllung ihres Auftrags, über die Qualität und Quantität ihrer
Telemedienangebote sowie über die geplanten Schwerpunkte, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/-/id=2447820/property=download/nid=1886/
19tcfs8/ARD-Leitlinien-Telemedien1112%2BBericht0910.pdf.
Satzung des Zweiten Deutschen Fernsehens, available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/uploads/media/Satzung_des_ZDF_Fassung__vom__9_12_11.pdf.
Programm-Perspektiven 2011-2012 Selbstverpflichtungserklärung, available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/fileadmin/files/Download_Dokumente/
DD_Das_ZDF/Fernsehrat/ZDF_Selbstverpflichtungserkaerung_Programmperspektiven_2011-2012.pdf.
Bericht über programmliche Leistungen und Perspektiven des nationalen Hörfunks 2010-2012, available in
German at: http://www.dradio.de/download/128293.
ARD-Staatsvertrag, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/organisation/-/id=2421034/property=download/nid=8036/20qys9/ARDStaatsvertrag_2009.pdf.
ARD-Satzung, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/abc/-/id=2254374/property=download/nid=1643802/3n05n9/ARD-Satzung.pdf.
ARD-Fernsehvertrag, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/abc//id=1659728/property=download/nid=1643802/dvd7ul/Fernsehvertrag_2006.pdf.
ZDF-Staatsvertrag, available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/uploads/media/zdf-staatsvertrag_neu.pdf.
ZDF-Satzung, available in German at:
http://www.unternehmen.zdf.de/uploads/media/5.1.1.4.1_u_Satzung_des_ZDF.pdf.
Deutschlandradio-Staatsvertrag, available in German at:
http://mv.juris.de/mv/gesamt/DLRStVtr_MV_1994.htm#DLRStVtr_MV_1994_rahmen.
209
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Furthermore the State broadcasting corporations associated in the ARD have issued legal
provisions of their own. It should be noted that some of these are State Treaties between
two or four Länder establishing a joint regional PSB. Since the treatment of all of these
would go beyond the scope of this country report, the consideration shall be focussed on
the WDR-Law 50. The reason for this choice is that the WDR is the biggest of the State
broadcasters. With regard to telemedia Sec. 3 of the WDR-Law makes a reference to the
relevant articles (11d-11f) of the RStV. Sec. 4 et seq. of the WDR-Law determine the
public remit, its fulfilment, the issuance of relevant directives and the duty to report as
described before. The provisions concerning the content of the services offered shall be
object of the relevant chapter below.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects 51
The regulation of media has to be considered in the context of the constitutional
protection under Art. 5 Grundgesetz. The freedom from State interference induces that
the legislator must not use its room to manoeuvre to influence media in the interest of a
certain opinion. Again, it should be stressed that – within the German system of
federalism – it is in principle within the responsibility of the Länder to implement the
relevant laws in this field.
With regard to PSB and the aspects examined above the following applies: The internal
supervision on PSB's broadcasting and telemedia services is exercised by the respective
Broadcasting Council 52 of each broadcaster regarding those associated in the ARD. The
Broadcasting Councils inter alia monitor the compliance with the programme principles.
With regard to the ZDF the ZDF-Treaty determines the responsibility of the Television
Council 53 for internal supervision. The Television Council can issue guidelines and is
empowered to supervise compliance with these guidelines and with the legal provisions
contained in the ZDF-Treaty and the RStV. Structure and duties of these councils are
regulated in the respective broadcasting laws of the Länder, the Interstate Treaties and
the ZDF-Treaty. In addition to this, DasErste, which is a national programme jointly
produced by the broadcasting corporations associated under the roof of the ARD, is
advised and monitored by an internal commission, the Advisory Council for Programme 54.
The joint activities of the regional broadcasters under the roof of the ARD are advised
upon by the Councils Chairpersons' Conference of the ARD 55 which also coordinates the
work of the respective councils of the regional PSB. External supervision is exercised by
the respective Länder-Governments 56. Legal supervision on the ZDF is exercised by the
Länder-Governments on the basis of an alternating two-years period 57. In order to
ensure freedom from state interference as mentioned above, the external supervision is
limited to the question of legality of administrative activities. The Advisory Council and
the GVK of the ARD are empowered to monitor the programme of DasErste ex officio and
to act on complaints by viewers. As far as supervision of the single programmes is
concerned the monitoring is in the responsibility of the specific board competent for
supervising the respective regional PSB who has produced the programme in question. If
the Advisory Council and the GVK of the ARD determine an infringement of the relevant
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
Gesetz über den Westdeutschen Rundfunk, WDR-G, available in German at:
http://www.wdr.de/unternehmen/senderprofil/rechtsgrundlagen/pdf/WDR_20100317_WDR-Gesetz.pdf.
This section was produced with the valuable support of Peter Matzneller, LL.M. Eur.
Rundfunkrat, see Sec. 15 et seq. WDR-G.
Fernsehrat, see Sec. 19 et seq. ZDF-Treaty.
Programmbeirat, see Art. 11b RStV, Sec. 1, 7 ARD-Treaty and Sec. 2 of the ARD-Television Treaty.
Gremienvorsitzendenkonferenz der ARD (GVK), see Sec. 7 ARD-Treaty; this is not to be confused with the
Councils Chairpersons' Conference established under the roof of the State Media Authorities (Die
Medienanstalten) in respect of the supervision of commercial broadcasters.
See Sec. 54 WDR-G.
See Sec. 31 ZDF-Treaty.
210
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
rules they contact the various organs of DasErste or the concerned regional broadcasting
corporation and are entitled to make public comments. The Television Council monitors
the ZDF ex officio and is entitled to act on viewers’ complaints. As regards ZDF, the
Television Council may under Sec. 20 of the ZDF-Treaty publicly express its criticism
about broadcasts of the ZDF.
The members of DRadio are according to Sec. 1 Deutschlandradio-Treaty the
broadcasting corporations associated under the roof of the ARD and the ZDF. Internal
supervision is exercised by the Radio Council 58. The Radio Council monitors DRadio ex
officio and acts on viewers’ complaints (Sec. 15 Deutschlandradio-Treaty). Legal
supervision is exercised by the Länder-Governments on the basis of an alternating twoyears period 59.
Besides this, the competent councils for ARD, ZDF and DRadio can require the respective
Director-General to publish complaints issued by the councils due to a breach of the legal
provisions in the respective services (Art. 19a RStV).
The bodies and organs described in this section are also competent for supervising the
respective non-linear audiovisual media services' activities of DasErste, the regional PSB
associated in the ARD and of the ZDF.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
The term “journalist” is not protected as occupational title. According to the definition
provided by the German Journalists Association (DJV) 60 a journalist is: a person that – in
accordance with certain criteria, as journalistic standards and high personal and
professional quality – works full-time on the preparation or dissemination of information,
opinion and entertainment via the media in words, pictures, sound or a combination of
these 61. Thus, although there are put high requirements on the occupational image of a
journalist the pursuance of this vocation shall depend on the individual capacity but not
on external demands as to the professional or training qualification. This attitude reflects
the intention to save freedom of media and freedom of opinion from restrictions – and
correlates with the freedom of registry for publishers (see above). The protection of
these freedoms is of major importance which is reflected in the relevant legislation and
its implementation.
First, it should be noted that there is no national press law in Germany to provide for a
legal framework for journalistic activities. In the 1950s the Federal Ministry of Internal
Affairs submitted the draft of a “Bundespressegesetz” (National Press Law) which
proposed the establishment of a self-monitoring body in the form of a public corporation.
This planned State supervision caused indignation of journalists and publishers and was
discarded again. As a reaction to this attempt about ten publishers and editors in chief
founded the German “Presserat 62” along the lines of the British Press Council. This selfmonitoring body will be treated in more detail in the chapter below.
58
59
60
61
62
Hörfunkrat, Sec. 20 et seq. Deutschlandradio-Treaty.
See Sec. 31 Deutschlandradio-Treaty.
Deutscher Journalisten Verband, DJV, see: http://www.djv.de.
Berufsbild Journalistin – Journalist, DJV-publication available in German at:
http://www.djv.de/fileadmin/DJV/Journalismus_praktisch/Broschueren_und_Flyer/Berufsbild_2009.pdf .
See: http://www.presserat.info.
211
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Under the press and media laws of the Länder 63 the function and duty of the press/media
is to procure and distribute information, to comment on an issue, to criticise, to
contribute to opinion-making and education.
The press/media are obliged to the liberal and democratic order of the Federal Republic
of Germany. The freedom of the press/media shall be subject only to such limitations as
permitted by the Grundgesetz and in the immediate context of the respective
press/media law.
The press/media have certain rights, as the right to information, and besides these also
obligations, as for example the obligation to careful investigation, to publishing
information, to identify advertising and to concede a right to reply.
To be enabled to fulfil their public tasks media depend on obtaining information. To this
end public authorities are – with a few exceptions – obliged to provide information to
journalists. This right to information is regulated in the RStV, LMG, LPrG as well as in the
respective freedom of information laws.
Art. 9a RStV determines a right to information according to which broadcasters are –
subject to certain exemptions due to matters of public interest – entitled to obtain
information from authorities. In addition to this some LMG provide for the right to
information towards public authorities in favour of broadcasters and telemedia
providers 64. The same applies to the LPrG which foresee the right to access to public
authorities' information for the press, again provided with exceptions for certain
prevailing public or private interests 65.
On 1 January 2006 the Federal Act Governing Access to Information held by the Federal
Government (IFG) 66 entered into force. According to the IFG everyone is entitled to
(comprehensive) official information from the authorities of the Federal Government and
from other Federal bodies and institutions insofar as they discharge administrative tasks
under public law.
Everyone means every citizen and refers to natural and legal persons – as well as to
journalists. The reference in Sec. 1 para 3 IFG, which determines that provisions in other
legislation on access to official information shall take precedence does not mean that the
right to information as provided in favour of journalists under the LMG/LPrG (see above)
would exclude journalists from the scope of application of the IFG. It has explicitly been
ruled by court 67 that journalists belong to the beneficiary category of persons under the
IFG, too. The precedence as described in Sec. 1 para 3 IFG applies only if and when the
other legislation provides comprehensively for a special right to information 68. Moreover,
it would contravene the intention of the LMG/LPrG – i.e, to improve the media’s position
63
64
65
66
67
68
Landespressegesetze, LPrG.
See for example Sec. 38a of the LMG Baden-Württemberg, available in German at: http://www.lfmnrw.de/fileadmin/lfm-nrw/Medienrecht/lmg2009.pdf.
See for example Sec. 4 LPrG Nordrhein-Westfalen, available in German at:
https://recht.nrw.de/lmi/owa/br_bes_text?anw_nr=2&gld_nr=2&ugl_nr=2250&bes_id=4493&menu=1&sg
=0&aufgehoben=N&keyword=pressegesetz#det188988.
Gesetz zur Regelung des Zugangs zu Informationen des Bundes, Informationsfreiheitsgesetz, IFG,
available in English at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_ifg/index.html.
Oberverwaltungsgericht (administrative appeals court) Nordrhein-Westfalen, of 26 October 2011 (8 A
2593/10), available in German at:
http://www.justiz.nrw.de/nrwe/ovgs/ovg_nrw/j2011/8_A_2593_10urteil20111026.html.
An example for this is the Act on the documents of the State Security of the former German Democtartic
Republic (StUG) which will be described below.
212
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
– if journalists would enjoy the privileging provision of the LMG/LPrG but would be
excluded from the “Jedermannsrecht 69” under the IFG.
Usually the respective applicant may request a certain form of access to the information.
Furthermore, the IFG introduced a reversal of the burden of proof, which means that it is
not the applicant who has to prove his or her legitimate interest in the requested
information, but it is the authority which has to explain why – in the particular case – the
information requested is refused. The protection of special public interests (e.g.
international relations or military interests), of the official decision-making process, of
personal data and of intellectual property and business or trade secrets can constitute a
legal exception to the right to information. The information is to be made accessible to
the applicant within one month. Fees and expenses shall be charged for official acts but
not for the furnishing of basic items of information. Anyone considering his or her right to
access to information to have been violated may appeal to the Federal Commissioner for
Freedom of Information 70. It is permissible to challenge the decision to reject the
application by lodging an administrative appeal or bringing an action to compel
performance of the requested administrative act.
As compared with the right to information provided for in the LMG and LPrG the IFG
expands this right and facilitates its realisation.
Some of the Länder have introduced Freedom of Information Acts on regional level, too.
These Länder-IFG 71 provide for the right to access to information as far as the respective
State authorities are concerned.
Journalists are regularly confronted with personal rights aspects when exercising their
profession. As press freedom is not guaranteed without any limits, in some cases there
has to be a weighting of the respective interests, namely the freedoms protected under
Art. 5 Grundgesetz and the personal rights affected which are for their part protected by
the Grundgesetz. The consideration of interests is made with regard to the diligence of
the journalist’s work and to the public interest in the topic in question.
The right to one’s own picture and the right in one’s own name are part of the protected
personal rights that have to be respected by journalists. If an individual feels his or her
rights infringed he or she can claim:
 right of reply as determined by the LPrG or LMG;
 non-disclosure or omission of a certain statement of facts or abusive criticism;
 withdrawal of a statement that has been proven to be wrong;
 completion or correction if a reporting was incomplete or facts were presented
wrong;
 damages 72.
69
70
71
72
German term which characterises a certain right as one which can be asserted by any person living in
Germany, in distinction from such that can be claimed by German nationals, only.
Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit, see:
http://www.bfdi.bund.de/IFG/Home/homepage_node.html.
An overview on the existing Länder-IFG is available at:
http://www.bfdi.bund.de/IFG/Gesetze/Landesgesetze/Landesgesetze_node.html.
Claims according to civil law can be based inter alia on the following provisions: Sec. 12, 823, 1004
German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) available in English at: http://www.gesetze-im-
213
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The German Criminal Code 73 prohibits journalists inter alia insult and (intentional)
defamation 74. Journalists must not violate privacy under Sec. 201 et seq. StGB (e.g.
privacy of the spoken an written word, violation of intimate privacy by taking
photographs) or commit offences related to religion or ideology under Sec. 166 et seq.
StGB (e.g. defamation of religions, religious and ideological associations). Furthermore,
journalists must not in their reporting incite to a war of aggression (Sec. 80a StGB),
disseminate propaganda material of unconstitutional organisations (Sec. 86 StGB),
publicly incite to crime (Sec. 111 StGB), commit a burglary (Sec. 123 StGB; which is of
importance when private locations or events are concerned), incite to hatred (Sec. 130
StGB), attempt to cause the commission of offences by means of publication (Sec. 130a
StGB) and to disseminate depictions of violence (Sec. 131 StGB).
Sec. 353b StGB on the breach of official secrets and special duties of confidentiality has –
in connection with the provisions on abetting and aiding 75 – gained importance in this
context, too. In this combination there have been conducted investigations against
journalists, too, sometimes in connection with searches and sequestration in editorial or
journalists offices. Although these investigations were directed at the journalists, the aim
was – at least also – to reveal the informant. For this very reason this criminally relevant
accusation has been subject of fierce criticism by journalists. An important decision in
this context was issued in 2007 by the German Constitutional Court in the so called
Cicero-case. In this ruling the BVerfG strengthened the freedom of press and the
protection of sources by declaring that both investigation measures taken – a search of
the editorial offices of the political magazine Cicero, and the confiscation of computer
data, in September 2005 – were unconstitutional. In this case, the magazine Cicero had
cited confidential documents of the Federal Criminal Police Office. The responsible public
prosecutor's office subsequently launched an investigation into the aiding and abetting of
a breach of official secrecy, during which the magazine's editorial offices were searched
and documents confiscated. The magazine complained successfully to the Constitutional
Court about these measures (see above under the first chapter).
The protection of (confidential) sources is provided for in the German Code of Criminal
Procedure (StPO) 76. Sec. 53 para 1 no. 5 StPO (Right to Refuse Testimony on
Professional Grounds) determines, that “individuals who are or have been professionally
involved in the preparation, production or dissemination of periodically printed matter,
radio broadcasts, film documentaries or in the information and communication services
involved in instruction or in the formation of opinion” may refuse to testify before the
court concerning the author or contributor of comments and documents, or concerning
any other informant or the information communicated to them in their professional
capacity including its content. This applies also to the content of materials which they
have produced themselves and matters which have received their professional attention.
The right to refuse is confined to contributions, documentation, information and materials
for the editorial element of the persons' activity, or information and communication
services which have been editorially reviewed.
73
74
75
76
internet.de/englisch_bgb/index.html; Sec. 22 Act on the Protection of Copyrights concerning Artistic
Works and Photographs (Kunsturhebergesetz, KUrhG) available in German at: http://www.gesetze-iminternet.de/kunsturhg/BJNR000070907.html; on Art. 1 para 1 and 2 para 1 Grundgesetz; and with
reference to the relevant criminal law provisions as described below.
Strafgesetzbuch, StGB, available in English at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stgb/index.html.
Sec. 185-187 StGB.
Sec. 26 and 27 StGB.
Strafprozessordnung, StPO, available in English at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stpo/englisch_stpo.html#p0172.
214
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
As far as the content of materials which they have produced themselves and matters
which have received their professional attention are concerned, the right to refuse
testimony shall expire if the evidence is required to clear up a felony 77, or if the object of
the investigation is a crime against peace and of endangering the democratic state based
on the rule of law, or of treason and of endangering external security 78, a crime against
sexual self-determination 79 or a money-laundering or concealment of unlawfully acquired
assets 80. A prerequisite to this is – as far as the investigation concerns a misdemeanour
– that an enquiry into the facts and circumstances or an investigation as to the
whereabouts of the accused would otherwise offer no prospect of success or be much
more difficult. However, even in the latter described cases testimony may be refused if
this would otherwise result in the disclosure of the identity of the author or contributor of
comments and documents, or of any other informant, or of the information
communicated to him in his professional capacity or of the content of such
communication.
The aim of this rule is to protect the relationship of trust between “the media” and their
informants. This mutual trust is part of the freedom of expression as protected in Art. 5
para 1 Grundgesetz, too. The right to refuse to testify does therefore not primarily aim at
the protection of the informant, but of the public interest in a functioning print and
audiovisual media. The whistleblower does not have a legal claim to the journalist
refusing to testify, nevertheless, the “Journalists Law 81” requires such behaviour.
Chapter VIII of the StPO (Seizure, Interception of Telecommunications, Computerassisted Search, Use of Technical Devices, Use of Undercover Investigators and Search)
includes relevant provisions, too.
Sec. 97 StPO determines which objects may not be subject to seizure. It says, that the
seizure of documents, sound, image and data media, illustrations and other images in
the custody of persons referred to in Sec. 53 para 1 no. 5, or of the editorial office, the
publishing house, the printing works or the broadcasting company, shall be inadmissible
insofar as they are covered by the right of such persons to refuse to testify (see above).
This restriction on seizure shall not apply if certain facts substantiate the suspicion that
the person entitled to refuse to testify participated in the criminal offence, or in
accessoryship after the fact, obstruction of justice or handling stolen goods, or where the
objects concerned have been obtained by means of a criminal offence or have been used
or are intended for use in perpetrating a criminal offence, or where they emanate from a
criminal offence. But in these cases, too, seizure shall only be admissible, however,
where it is not disproportionate to the importance of the case having regard to the basic
rights arising out of Art. 5 Grundgesetz, and the investigation of the factual
circumstances or the establishment of the whereabouts of the perpetrator would
otherwise offer no prospect of success or be much more difficult. Seizure in the premises
of an editorial office, publishing house, printing works or broadcasting company may be
ordered only by the court. If during a search objects which indicate the commission of
another criminal offence are found on the premises of a person named in Sec. 53 para 1
no. 5 such objects being, covered by the right of the person named to refuse to testify,
the object shall only be admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings insofar as the
subject of these criminal proceedings is a criminal offence which is punishable by a
77
78
79
80
81
Sec. 12 (1) of the Criminal Code.
Sec. 80a, 85, 87, 88, 95, in conjunction with sections 97b, 97a, 98 to 100a of the Criminal Code.
Sec. 174 to 176 and section 179 of the Criminal Code.
Sec. 261 (1) to (4) of the Criminal Code.
See no. 5 „Professional Secrecy“ of the Press Code of the German Press Council, available in English at:
http://www.presserat.info/uploads/media/Press_Code.pdf.
215
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and is not a criminal offence pursuant to
Sec. 353b StGB.
With regard to investigation measures – as e.g. telecommunications surveillance –
directed at persons that have a right to refuse testimony Sec. 160a StPO determines,
that if such shall come into operation against journalists or with an effect on journalists
there has to be made a weighing of interests in the particular case to decide whether the
respective measure will be taken or not. This means that journalists are put in a worse
position regarding the protection of their sources and informants as compared to other
persons whose profession swears them to secrecy as for instance deputies, clergypersons
or criminal attorneys.
In the present context a quite current development in Germany concerning media
freedom shall be noted. On 11 May 2012 the Länder-Chamber of the German Parliament
(Bundesrat) adopted 82 a bill strengthening the freedom of the press in criminal law and
criminal procedure law 83, as introduced by the Government Parties on 21 October
2010 84. Before this, the federal chamber of the German Parliament (Bundestag) had
agreed with the proposal 85. The PrStG was submitted to the President and will enter into
force after being signed by the President and published in the Federal Law Gazette. The
defined goal of the PrStG 86 is to strengthen the position of the members of the media,
i.e. persons working in the media field, and their sources. To this end the PrStG foresees
amendments to certain provisions of the StGB and of the StPO.
The first amendment concerns Sec. 353b StGB on the breach of official secrets and
special duties of confidentiality, which is part of Chapter 30 on offences committed in
public office. Sec. 353b refers to the illegal release of confidential and secret information
by certain officials and will be supplemented with an additional paragraph 3a according to
which individuals under Sec. 53 para 1 no. 5 StPO (see above) may not be punished for
aiding and abetting breaches of official secrecy if they merely receive, analyse or publish
the secret or the information that is supposed to be kept secret. These activities include
the research as well as other measures preparing the publication. Media stakeholders
welcomed the aim to back the journalists work by reducing their criminal responsibility,
but criticised the approach ad hand as falling too short. The critics argue inter alia that it
is not reasonable to exclude from this vindicatory rule all abetting activities that lie
temporally before the act of disclosure by the official, and hence leave these indictable.
Journalistic investigation may take place even before this disclosure, without necessarily
being a direct involvement in the offence. Furthermore, it is pointed out that due to the
practical difficulties to distinguish between abetment and incitement – particularly in the
journalistic field of work – and the consequences that might result from a “wrong”
assessment of the situation by the investigating bodies, incitement activities should be
included in the new paragraph 3a, too 87.
82
83
84
85
86
87
The
Protocol of 11 May 2012 is
available
in
German at: http://www.bundesrat.de/
cln_117/nn_6906/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Plenarprotokolle/2012/Plenarprotokoll896,templateId=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/Plenarprotokoll-896.pdf.
Gesetz zur Stärkung der Pressefreiheit im Straf- und Strafprozessrecht, PrStG.
The Bill (BT-Drs. 17/3355) of 21 October 2010 is available in German at:
http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/033/1703355.pdf.
The decision of the Bundestag of 29 March 2012 (Drs. 203/12) is available in German at:
http://www.bundesrat.de/cln_152/SharedDocs/Drucksachen/2012/0201-300/20312,templateId=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/203-12.pdf.
See on the proposed bill: “Government Adopts Bill Strengthening Press Freedom” by A. Yliniva-Hoffmann,
IRIS Legal Observations 2010-9/22.
See the common statement of several representatives of broadcasting and print media, available in
German at:
http://www.djv.de/fileadmin/DJV/Infothek_NEU/Stellungnahme_BT-Drs-17-3355-3989.pdf.
216
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
A further change introduced by the PrStG amends Sec. 97 para 5 StPO. According to this
individuals under Sec. 53 para 1 no. 5 StPO may only have their property seized if they
are seriously suspected of an involvement in the respective offence. Previously, any
degree of suspicion was sufficient. With regard to this the mentioned statement of
stakeholders criticises that this amendment, which has been claimed by media
representatives for a long time, is not extended to Sec. 160a para 4 StPO, too. This latter
provision concerns investigation measures against persons that have a right to refuse
testimony. It is criticised that certain investigation measures – as for example the
collection of telecommunication data – may still be adopted against this special category
of persons based on a simple suspicion of their involvement in the respective offence.
The need for this reform arose following the so-called "Cicero-ruling" of the BVerfG (see
above). In that case, the magazine "Cicero" had cited confidential documents of the
Federal Criminal Police Office, following which the responsible public prosecutor's office
had launched an investigation, searched the magazine's editorial offices and confiscated
documents 88.
Besides this, there are further provisions that have an impact on journalistic activities –
with a view to the increasing significance of security aspects. As a consequence from the
global fight against terrorism there has arisen a public debate on an alleged conflict
between (press-)freedom and security. These developments affect several aspects of
journalistic work, as professional secrecy, the protection of journalistic resources and
editorial secrecy through an expansion of police and secret service surveillance
competencies.
In this context journalists have criticised the impact of data retention provisions 89.
Having regard to the so called “Telekom-Affäre 90” they pointed to the risk of abuse the
retention of data entails. This is aggravated by the fact that the awareness of the
retention of communication data could have a chilling effect of potential sources.
Although data retention under the EU-Directive does explicitly not provide for the
retention of the communication content, solely from the stored communication data
conclusions could be drawn with regard to the respective informant or whistleblower.
Hence, this could have a significant, detrimental impact on the relationship of trust
between the journalist and his/her source of information, on their “safe” communication
lines – and ultimately on the acquisition of information in general.
Another investigation measure concerning the activities of journalists is the so called
online-search of hard disks. In the beginning of 2009 the Law on the Federal Criminal
Police Office (BKAG) 91 entered into force. The BKAG entitles the competent investigation
authorities to search information stored on hard disks by either installing a Trojan on the
computer when the user is online or by gaining entrance to the home or office of the
person to be surveilled in order to install a surveillance software. Legal precondition to
the online-search is that there are circumstances which indicate a concrete threat to an
88
89
90
91
The Plenary Protocol as well as the common statement of stakeholders include proposals of the opposition
parties, too. Since these proposals have not found entrance into the PrStG they are not part of the present
work.
In Germany the provisions of the European Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC were transposed into
national law through amendments to the Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz, TKG).
These provisions were declared unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court and are therefore
invalid. The Member State Germany has not implemented effectively Directive 2006/24/EC yet and is thus
facing an infringement procedure before the European Court of Justice.
With the intention to reveal internal whistleblowers the Deutsche Telekom AG spied out
telecommunications data of journalists and members of the supervisory board.
Gesetz über das Bundeskriminalamt und die Zusammenarbeit des Bundes und der Länder in
kriminalpolizeilichen Angelegenheiten (BKAG), available in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bkag_1997/index.html.
217
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
important value, as life and limb, freedom of a person, public goods the threat of which
endangers the fundament of a State or the existence of human beings. The online search
requires a prior judicial order. According to Sec. 20u BKAG (protection of individuals
entitled to refuse from testimony) such investigation measures may be taken against
journalists, after a consideration of interests as described above concerning Sec. 160a
StPO. Journalists demanded to be exempted from the category of persons possibly
addressed by such measures, at all.
Besides these legal measures there have also been changes of the accreditation practice.
Regarding big – sporting 92 or political 93 or other 94 – events there have developed stricter
requirements to journalists in order to be accredidated to such. It has become
increasingly usual to demand the agreement to so-called Regelanfragen, which are
“ordinary questions” to Criminal Offices or offices responsible for defending the
constitution (Verfassungsschutz) prior to the accreditation. In this context it is criticised
that this checking of personal data and police or other investigation authorities
information lacks a legal basis, interferes with the journalists’ freedoms as guaranteed by
the Constitution, puts a great pressure on the journalists and grants police and secret
service bodies the discretion to decide who is allowed to report on certain events.
Furthermore, data protection rights could be infringed. 95
Sec. 383 of the Code of Civil Procedure 96 provides for the right to refuse to testify on
personal grounds. According to this, persons who collaborate or have collaborated, as
professionals, in preparing, making or distributing printed periodicals or radio or
television broadcasts, may refuse to testify, if their testimony would concern the person
of the author or contributor of articles or broadcasts and documents, or the source
thereof, as well as the information they have been given with regard to these persons’
activities, provided that this concerns articles or broadcasts, documents and information
published in the editorial part of the periodical or broadcast. Even if such a person does
not refuse to testify, his or her examination is not to be aimed at facts and circumstances
regarding which it is apparent that no testimony can be made without breaching the
confidentiality obligation.
92
93
94
95
96
In 2006, during the Football World Cup in Germany journalists had to agree to such Regelanfragen to the
police and the Verfassungsschutz, because of a higher security risk.
Before the G8-Summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 journalists had to give their consent to a Data Protection
Information which meant a check of the respective person by the police, the Federal Criminal Police Office
and the National Secret Service; 20 journalists did not receive an accreditation. Some of these jounalists
felt violated in their rights and took legal action. The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg
judged for example that Art. 5 Grundgesetz does not give a right to accreditation to journalists, but they
have a right to a fact-bounded, arbitrary-free decision of the administrative authority concerning their
accreditation. The decision of the Oberverwaltungsgericht Berlin-Brandenburg (No. OVG 10 B 1.11) of 22
June 2011 is available in German at:
http://www.gerichtsentscheidungen.berlinbrandenburg.de/jportal/portal/t/326/bs/10/page/sammlung.psml?doc.hl=1&doc.id=
JURE110013177%3Ajuris-r00&documentnumber=1&numberofresults=1&
showdoccase=1&doc.part=L&paramfromHL=true.
In 2006, during the visit of the Pope in Germany, the same accreditation rules applied as during the World
Cup.
In order to save the journalists’ rights, the German Journalists Association (DJV) has developped - in
cooperation with the ARD, the ZDF, the Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV), the Verband
Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger e.V. (VDZ), the Deutsche Journalisten-Verband (DJV), the Deutscher
Journalistinnen- und Journalisten Union (dju), the Verband Privater Rundfunk und Telemedien (VPRT) and
the German Press Council - some basic points and principles concerning the practice of accreditation,
available at:
http://www.djv.de/fileadmin/DJV/Infothek_NEU/Akkreditierungspraxis-Grundsätze.pdf.
Zivilprozessordnung, ZPO, available in English at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_zpo/index.html.
218
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Specific positive content obligations
In Germany, no specific positve content obligations exist. On broadcasting level, the
corresponding legal norms contain certain programming principles which are laid down in
rather general terms. For example, according to the RStV, the PSB are obliged to respect
and protect human dignity, moral and religious beliefs of the population, life, freedom
and the opinions of others in their offers.
The absence of specific content obligations results from the interpretation which the
Federal Constitutional Court has given to Art. 5 GG. According to the BVerfG,
broadcasters enjoy freedom of programme. Freedom of programme does not mean that
the German legislator cannot limit programm contents but he is not allowed to prescribe
concrete content standards which results in that the PSB or private broadcasters cannot
make use any more of their freedom, but have to implement a specified proramme. 97
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
In Germany, no such funding schemes exist.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
According to the RStV advertising of political, ideological or religious nature is prohibited,
which applies to teleshopping accordingly. Public service announcements transmitted
free-of-charge, including charitable appeals, are not considered as advertising.
With regard to (nation-wide) commercial broadcasters the RStV determines the
obligation to grant appropriate broadcasting time to political parties participating in
elections to the German Parliament, subject to a reimbursement of the costs, if an
election list of a party has been accepted for said party in at least one state. Besides this,
political parties or other political associations participating in the elections of
representatives to the European Parliament shall be granted appropriate broadcasting
time, if at least one electoral proposal has been accepted, subject to the reimbursement
of costs.
According to the LMG broadcasters providing a state-wide full programme can be obliged
to offer adequate broadcasting time to political parties or other political associations
participating in elections to the European Parliament, the German Parliament or the
respective State Parliament if an election list of the respective party or association has
been accepted 98. The broadcasters are allowed to offer such time also in the course of
municipal elections.
The WDR-Gesetz determines such an obligation for the regional PSB, too.
According to the Press Code issued by the German Press Council, reporting during
election campaigns must inform accurately, which means also to publish opinions the
press does not share.
97
98
Decision of the BVerfG (No. 1 BvR 2270/05, 809/06, 830/06) of 11 September 2007, available in German
at: http://www.bverfg.de/entscheidungen/rs20070911_1bvr227005.html.
See for example Sec. 36 LMG-NRW.
219
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The German Press Council 99 is an organisation of the German publisher's associations
and journalists' associations Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV), the
Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger e.V. (VDZ), the Deutsche Journalisten-Verband
(DJV) and the Deutscher Journalistinnen- und Journalisten Union (dju). The Press Council
was founded in 1956; it has two main organs, namely the Trägerverein and the plenary
sitting. The Trägerverein consists of eight members, two people of each of the four
member associations. It acts for the freedom of press and protects the reputation of the
German press. The plenary meeting consists of 30 members, eight members from VDZ
and DJU, and additionally seven of BDZV and DJV, respectively. The task of the plenary
meeting as a voluntary self-controlling body of the German press is the removal of
mismanagement in the press as well as to speak up for the free access to generally
accessible sources. Both main organs become active within the scope of the so-called
complaint procedures.
The German Press Council has elaborated journalistic principles and has incorporated
them in the Pressekodex (Press Code). It was first published in 1973 and was renewed
for the last time on 3 December 2008. 100 It includes principles the Press Council
recommends to take into account as journalist; these are amongst others: truthfulness
and preservation of human dignity, professional secrecy and respect for the intimate
sphere of individuals, presumption of innocence and the rightful treatment of minors.
If a press enterprise in print media or online media offends against one of these
journalistic principles, everybody can direct a complaint to the Press Council. Since 2009
it is possible to do this online. If the complaint is not obviously unsubstantiated, the
affected medium is asked for a statement. Afterwards the board of complaint, which
meets four times in a year, decides on the case. If the complaint is founded
substantiated by the committee, it takes a measure against the medium.
During its meetings the committee decides whether the complaint is substantiated or not.
Afterwards it has the possibility to take one of the following measures:
In cases of lower offence against the code, it can give a hint to the concerned editorial
team.
A non-official disapproval goes out for a heavier offence against the code. Under Sec. 15
of the complaint order, there is no duty to print disapproval in the affected publication
organs. Nevertheless, the complaint recommends such an editorial decision like an
expression of fair reporting.
The most severe sanction is the rebuke: public rebukes have to be published by the
medium. Non-public rebukes are pronounced in cases of serious offence, if another
publication is inappropriate for reasons of victim’s protection.
Since 1976 the Federal Republic pays regularly subsidies to the Press Council, without
having any influence on it.
99
100
Presserat; key facts on the Press Council are available in English at:
http://www.presserat.info/service/english/keyfacts-in-english.html.
Pressekodex; available in English at:
http://www.presserat.info/uploads/media/Press_Code.pdf.
220
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The ARD has – according to the provisions of the RStV – issued guidelines on several
topics, too: in the report 101 that was already mentioned above, the ARD has determined
certain guidelines concerning DasErste on information, culture, education, entertainment,
family and minors, regional competence, integration of people with disabilities or
migrants and advertising 102. Such guidelines also exist with regard to telemedia offers 103.
Programme guidelines are also issued by the regional broadcasters associated in the
ARD, themselves 104.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The media authorities of the Länder supervise the compliance of the commercial
broadcasters with the relevant media regulations. In Germany there exist 14 media
authorities, whereas Berlin and Brandenburg on the one hand and Hamburg and
Schleswig-Holstein on the other hand established joint authorities, respectively. Structure
and organisation of these authorities are provided for by the respective LMG.
These 14 authorities have built up a common roof – the Association of State Media
Authorities (ALM) 105. Besides there exist several organs, in charge of different subjects
and, thus, supporting the work of the media authorities. These organs are the following:
 Commission on Licensing and Supervision (ZAK) 106 which is responsible for issues
related to the licensing and supervision of national broadcasters, platform
regulation and the development of digital broadcasting;
 Conference of Directors of the State Media Authorities (DLM) 107 which is responsible
for representing the interests of its members concerning broadcasting issues on the
national and international levels;
 Conference of Chairpersons of the Decision-Taking Councils (GVK) 108 which under
the RStV makes the selection decisions on the designation of wireless transmission
capacities to commercial service providers and on the allocation of platform
capacities;
 Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM) 109 which is responsible
for assessing commercial broadcasting and telemedia content with a view to the
protection of minors;
 Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) 110 which is in charge of
monitoring and enforcing compliance with the provisions on plurality in national
commercial television.
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
The report is available in German at: http://www.daserste.de/service/Leitlinien10-091210-p.pdf.
ARD-Werberichtlinien, available in German at:
http://www.ard.de/intern/abc/-/id=1794740/property=download/nid=1643802/14g8mzr/ARDWerberichtlinien+
f%C3%BCr+Werbung+und+Sponsoring+vom+M%C3%A4rz+2010.pdf.
The report including the guidelines concerning telemedia is available in German at:
http://www.daserste.de/service/Telemedien10-091210-p.pdf.
See as an example the Programmleitlinien des WDR, available in German at:
http://www.wdr.de/unternehmen/senderprofil/pdf/aufgabe/WDR_200812_Programmleitlinien.pdf.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesmedienanstalten, ALM; see: www.alm.de.
Kommission für Zulassung und Aufsicht, ZAK.
Direktorenkonferenz der Landesmedienanstalten, DLM.
Gremienvorsitzendenkonferenz, GVK.
Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz, KJM.
Kommission zur Ermittlung der Konzentration im Medienbereich, KEK.
221
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
With regard to commercial telemedia services the supervision comes under the
competent Länder-authority, which can be the respective media authority or a body
within the State administration.
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
The decision on the assignment, designation and use of transmission capacities for
distribution of broadcasting services and comparable telemedia (telemedia directed at
general public) is governed by the RStV and the respective Länder laws. Besides,
allocation of the respective frequencies is regulated by the Telecommunications
(TKG) 111.
the
the
the
Act
Responsible for the allocation of frequencies is the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) 112.
When it comes to broadcasting, the competence of the Länder is concerned. Thus, the
BNetzA and the Länder have to decide and act in mutual consent (see Sec. 57 TKG). To
this end the Länder inform the BNetzA about their frequency-needs. On the basis of
these and taking into account the aim to ensure general supply with broadcasting, the
BNetzA assigns the respective frequencies. For a due organisation and realisation of the
frequency policy the BNetzA issues plans 113 and regulations 114 which specify the
procedures and conditions. An example for this procedure is the allocation of frequencies
for digital terrestrial broadcasting.
With regard to wireless transmission capacities Art. 51 et seq. RStV determine that the
Länder shall – as far as a nation-wide transmission is concerned all of them, as far as
several Länder are concerned just these – decide unanimously on their frequency-needs.
With regard to ARD, ZDF and DRadio the Prime Ministers of the Länder shall decide
consensually.
Sec. 10 et seq. LMG-NRW provide for the assignment of transmission capacities on
regional level. The provisions stress the importance of ensuring general supply with
(public service) broadcasting. Besides this, the allocation of frequencies shall be guided
by the principles of programme diversity and the proper fulfilment of the public remit.
The capacities shall be allocated for a limited period of time.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
As regards the distribution of television services the RStV permits the simultaneous and
unaltered retransmission which can be received nationally, or which is operated in Europe
legally and in accordance with the provisions of the European Convention on
Transfrontier Television. The retransmission of other television services shall be notified
111
112
113
114
Telekommunikationsgesetz, TKG, available in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/tkg_2004/BJNR119000004.html.
Bundesnetzagentur, BNetzA, information in English available at:
http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/cln_1932/EN/Home/home_node.html.
Frequenznutzungsplan, available in German at:
http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/
SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/BNetzA/Sachgebiete/Telekommunikation/Regulierung/Frequenzordnung/Frequ
enznutzungsplan/Frequenznutzungsplan2011pdf.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
Verwaltungsvorschrift für Frequenzzuteilungen für den Rundfunkdienst, available in German at:
http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/.
DE/BNetzA/Sachgebiete/Telekommunikation/Regulierung/Frequenzordnung/VerwaltungsvorschriftenFuerFr
equenzzuteilung/VVRuFu_VVorschriftFrequZutlgRundfunk01042010pdf.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
222
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
to the responsible media authority, which has to check the legal conformity.
Retransmission may be regulated in more detail within the LMG 115.
Cable allocation for broadcasting is provided for in the respective LMG. Sec. 18 et seq.
LMG-NRW rule that analogue cable operators shall – in the first line – supply the
subscribers with the legally determined PSB, local radio and collegiate programmes. If
the capacity is not sufficient to include all other broadcasting programmes offered the
respective media authority shall decide upon which programmes are to be fed in. This
decision has to take into account programme, offer and provider diversity and shall be
made in agreement with the cable operator and the concerned PSB.
Transmission and retransmission through digital cable networks shall be conducted under
the RStV. Digital cable operators that plan to retransmit programmes have to notify the
media authority about their intentions at least one month before the start. The regional
media authority then controls the legal conformity of the respective enterprise. In the
case that the retransmitted programme infringes legal obligations the media authority
can issue an objection or even prohibit the retransmission as such.
For the distribution of broadcasting and telemedia the RStV makes arrangements for
platforms, Sec. 52 et seq. RStV. Regarding access to platforms the providers of such
must ensure diversity of programmes, opinions and offers. To this end providers of
broadcasting services and comparable telemedia including electronic programme guides
must not be unduly impeded through conditional access systems, application
programming interfaces, user surfaces providing the first access to the services, or any
other technical specifications in the distribution of their offers, or without justifiable cause
be treated differently to comparable providers. The same applies to the structure of fees
and tariffs. The use of such access systems or conditions as well as of the tariffs has to
be notified to the media authority.
The structure of fees and tariffs for the distribution must not unduly impede providers of
broadcasting services and comparable telemedia nor result in their being treated
differently to comparable providers without justified cause. The control of the tariffs is in
the responsibility of the ZAK and the BNetzA 116.
The distribution of press products – i.e. marketing, sales and delivery – shall secure the
freedoms guaranteed under Art. 5 Grundgesetz. There exist different systems for this
distribution the predominant of which is the so-called Presse-Grosso. In this system a
wholesaler is interposed between the publishing houses and the retail sector. According
to industry data there are 69 press wholesalers in Germany 117. The wholesalers are
allocated territories and shall treat all publishing houses, publications and retail trades
equally. This neutrality shall ensure diversity and freedom of press products offered.
Moreover, retail traders and wholesalers have the right to return unsold products to the
publishing houses and receive a credit note for these products. Besides this, the
publishing houses fix the prices for both the wholesalers and the retail sector. All these
characteristics shall ensure an independent, broad and diverse offer of printed products
to consumers and, thus, contribute to the protection of press freedom. On 14 February
2012 the District Court of Cologne decided upon the claim of the Bauer Media publishing
house against one aspect of the system of Presse-Grosso 118. The claimant did not
115
116
117
118
This has been made e.g. in Sec. 23 et seq. LMG-NRW.
Sec. 52d RStV and Sec. 30 et seq. TKG.
Bundesverband Deutscher Buch-, Zeitungs- und Zeitschriften-Grossisten, BVPG, Federal Association of
German Books-, Newspapers- and Magazines-Wholesalers, available at: http://www.pressegrosso.de.
Landgericht Köln (Az. 88 O (Kart) 17/11), available in German at:
http://www.justiz.nrw.de/nrwe/lgs/koeln/lg_koeln/j2012/88_O__Kart__17_11_Urteil_20120214.html.
223
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
question the system as a whole, but argued that the fact, that the BVPG as a central
institution negotiates the trade margins for all its members, violates antitrust rules. The
claimant recommended a system of bilateral agreements between the publishing houses
and the wholesalers as this would allow for having regard to regional peculiarities. The
Court backed this opinion and ruled that the abolition of the central negotiating mandate
would not endanger the Grosso-system as such but would put an end to the illegal price
and conditions cartel of the BVPG. The BVPG appealed the decision and the procedure is
still pending. The Association argues that the Court’s decision weakens the neutral press
distribution system as the central negotiation mandate was a vital centrepiece of the
Grosso-system, and claimed that there was an urgent need for political action to save
this solidary trade system. On 27 April 2012 the Federal Ministry for Economy and
Technology held a round-table-meeting on the question of how the Presse-Grosso could
be safeguarded 119. The BVPG, publishing houses and deputies from the Bundestag
participated in the meeting and declared that they – principally – wanted to uphold the
Presse-Grosso as this guarantees for a diversity of opinions, content and offers. The
participants discussed opportunities for action in order to optimise the system and
agreed to work further on this before the parliamentary summer break.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
Platform operators have to obey certain obligations when compiling their programme
offers in order to secure diversity and freedom of opinion. This is of particular relevance
for regional and local programmes. Under the provisions of the RStV the provider has –
when allocating platform capacities – to consider the inclusion of certain (nation-wide)
PSB or commercial programmes, of regional and local radio/television programmes and
of certain digital or telemedia offers. The same applies if the platform operator offers an
electronic programme guide (EPG) the access to and presence in which has to be equal.
As to cable and satellite transmission capacities the LMG 120 determine an obligation for
the operators to – in the first line – ensure a comprehensive supply of the population
with PSB programmes and programme-related services as well as with local radio
programmes. Following to this it shall be ensured that PSB are able to fulfil their public
remit and that the population is provided – as comprehensively as possible – with
commercial programmes.
- Role of platform operators
Along with the advance of digital technologies the scarcity of transmission capacities
almost disappeared. Thus, the question is no longer the transmission as such but the
conditions of access to distribution networks – and finally to the audience. This access is,
today, mostly provided by platform operators that bundle the respective offers.
The RStV differentiates between platforms in open (Internet, UMTS or similar networks)
and such in closed networks. To platforms in open networks only Sec. 52a and 52f RStV
apply, which means that these do not have to fulfil the same range of regulatory
conditions, unless they have a dominant market position. The competent regional media
authorities shall determine in statutes and directives the status of the respective platform
providers.
119
120
Press release of the Ministry available in German at:
http://www.bmwi.de/BMWi/Navigation/Presse/pressemitteilungen,did=487120.html?view=renderPrint.
Sec. 10 et seq. and 18 et seq. LMG-NRW.
224
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Platform operators shall notify the competent media authority of their planned activities
beforehand. The ZAK then examines which kind of platform is in question and hence,
which legal conditions shall apply.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The main tasks of the media authorities is – in respect of commercial broadcasters – the
licensing and monitoring of private radio and television, the monitoring of nondiscrimination and free access to platforms, especially cable networks, and the support of
digitisation and broadcasting infrastructure.
Regarding the assignment of frequencies and the consent between or within the Länder
required in this context, the respective media authorities also play an important part,
including representation of the interest of private broadcasters. Furthermore, the media
authorities allocate the frequencies, which on their part were allocated to the media
authorities, to the respective private broadcasters.
As to the distribution of programmes the media authorities shall support actively the
switch-over from analogue to digital transmission as well as the introduction of digital
terrestrial transmission 121.
With regard to platform operators the regional media authority – as the case may be in
cooperation with the BNetzA – examines whether the provider observes the legal
provisions on the access of broadcasters to the platform. This means both the free and
non-discriminatory access of programme providers to the audience and the free and
diverse choice of the audience. The media authority furthermore controls the appliance
with all legislation concerning the content of the distributed programmes and – in this
context – may take measures if these provisions are violated.
The competent regional media authorities control the observance of the must-carryrules
by the platform operators. The latter have to notify the authority about their choice of
programmes beforehand. If the provider fails to fulfil the programme obligations the
media authority shall allocate capacities for broadcasting services.
In addition to this the LMG contain provisions on the allocation of transmission capacities,
too 122. These determine that the provision with PSB programmes and their programmerelated services have priority over other offers. Local and regional programmes as well as
commercial programmes shall be transmitted as comprehensively as possible.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The provisions on the investment of broadcasters in other companies as well as
competition law and reporting duty aspects have been described above. In order to fulfil
its task concerning the enforcement of plurality of opinion, the aforementioned
Commission on Concentration on the Media (KEK) provides a report of the participating
structure in Germany on its website. 123
121
122
123
Sec 27, 28 LMG-NRW.
Sec. 10 et seq. LMG-NRW.
Report of the participating interests, available in German at:
http://www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/beteiligung.php.
225
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
With a view to the print sector it should be noted that some of the press laws of the
Länder provide for media ownership rules, too. Sec. 7a of the Berliner Pressegesetz
(BlnPrG) 124 prescribes that the publisher of a periodical printed work has to disclose at
regular intervals information on the ownership and participation relationships of the
publishing company as well as on the legal relationships held to other press or
broadcasting companies 125. The aim of all these rules is particularly to preserve and
promote diversity in the media sector.
Besides this, the German Commercial Code provides for the right of free access to the
commercial and business registers 126.
- Accountability of public service media
According to the Interstate Treaty on the Financing of Broadcasting (RFinStV) 127 the
regional broadcasting operations associated within the ARD, the ZDF and the DRadio
have to report to the Länder-Parliaments on their economic and financial situation, soon
after the Commission on the Financial Needs of the Broadcasters (KEF) 128 has submitted
its report on the financial situation to the Länder-Governments 129. The report of the
broadcasters shall include the information relevant for the assessment of the
participation in other companies and subsidiaries and representatives of the broadcasters
shall be available for parliamentary hearings on the reports.
Besides, according to the RStV, the state broadcasting corporations forming the ARD
association, the ZDF and Deutschlandradio shall, commencing on 1 October 2004,
publish a report every two years on the fulfilment of their respective remit, on the quality
and quantity of the existing offers as well as on the focus of the respective planned
offers.
- Freedom of information laws
As described above there exists the IFG 130 on Federal level, along with the (eleven)
respective Länder-IFG. According to the IFG everyone has a comprehensive right to free
access to information held by authorities of the Federal Government or by other Federal
bodies and institutions insofar as they discharge administrative tasks under public law.
This right does not depend on nationality or the place of residence and can be exercised
by natural as well as by legal persons. Usually the application for access to information
does not require any statement of grounds, but such may be necessary where personal
data, copyrights or business or trade secrets are concerned. Access to the requested
information can be provided both orally and in writing, by direct inspection on-site or by
making the information available in any other way, e.g. through providing a copy of a
file. As a rule the applicant decides on the form of access, and it shall be granted within
one month. The application has to be directed to the responsible authority and can be
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
Berliner Pressegesetz, BlnPrG, available in German at:
http://gesetze.berlin.de/default.aspx?vpath=bibdata%2Fges%2FBlnPrG%2Fcont%2FBlnPrG.P7a.htm .
Similar provisions can be found in Pressegesetz des Landes Brandenburg, Hessisches Gesetz über Freiheit
und Recht der Presse, Landespressegesetz für das Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sächsisches Gesetz
über die Presse, Pressegesetz Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringer Pressegesetz.
Sec. 9 Handelsgesetzbuch, HGB, available in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/hgb/index.html#BJNR002190897BJNE001304377.
Rundfunkfinanzierungsstaatsvertrag, RFinStV, available in German at:
http://www.diemedienanstalten.de/fileadmin/Download/Rechtsgrundlagen/Gesetze_aktuell/RFinStV_11.pdf.
Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs, KEF.
Sec. 5 and 3 RFinStV.
Federal Act Governing Access to Information held by the Federal Government (Freedom of Information
Act), available in English at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_ifg/index.html.
226
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
made without fulfilment of specific requirements relating to form. The exceptions under
which access can be rejected as well as possible legal remedies have been described
above.
The function of the Federal Commissioner for Freedom of Information (BFDI) 131 is defined
in Sec. 12 IFG: Everyone who considers his or her right to access to information to have
been violated may appeal to the BFDI. The BFDI can give advise in the concrete case,
can check the request, can ask the respective public body for a statement in the
particular case or – if so – to give in the controversy. The BFDI does not have the power
to direct with respect to the public authorities. Besides this, the BFDI also advises the
Parliament, the Government and the authorities of the Federal Government in questions
of freedom of information and makes recommendations. In addition, the BFDI controls
the obligated authorities and – in the event of infringements of the right to information –
issues objections.
Every two years the BFDI publishes an activity-report on the freedom of information. In
the recently published report concerning the years 2010-2011 132, the BFDI states that
the amount of applications under the IFG has increased significantly within the last two
years. The report describes in detail cases and areas in which freedom of information
became important and where conflicts came up. Conflicts in this field arose inter alia with
a view to trade and business secrets, data protection aspects and the question,in how far
the IFG is applicable to governmental activities, particularly to the preparatory legislative
work.
The report points also to an evaluation of the IFG on behalf of the Parliament
(Bundestag) the results of which shall be submitted to the Parliamentary home affairs
committee in 2012.
Besides, there is a law on the further use of all information held by public authorities 133
and a bylaw on the charges and costs under the IFG 134.
Special rights to information are provided by numerous other laws 135.
In this context a ruling of the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) 136 should be
mentioned. On 3 November 2011, the BVerwG decided that the IFG applies, in principle,
to all activities of the federal ministries.
In the case at hand, the plaintiffs required access to certain documents of the Federal
Ministry of Justice (BMJ) 137: firstly, internal submissions to the Minister in connection with
the investigation into the possible need to reform the law on parent-child relations and,
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
Bundesbeauftragter für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit, BFDI.
Tätigkeitsbericht zur Informationsfreiheit für die Jahre 2010 und 2011, available in German at:
http://www.bfdi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Publikationen/Taetigkeitsberichte/
TB_IFG/3TB10_11.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
Gesetz über die Weiterverwendung von Informationen öffentlicher Stellen, IWG, available in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/iwg/index.html.
Verordnung über die Gebühren und Auslagen nach dem Informationsfreiheitsgesetz, IFGGebV, available in
German at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ifggebv/index.html.
These special provisions in other legislation on access to official information take precedence to the IFG as
far as their scope of application reaches, such other information laws are e.g.: the Gesetz über den
Zugang zu digitalen Geodaten, GeoZG, available in German at: http://www.gesetze-iminternet.de/geozg/index.html; the Umweltinformationsgesetz, UIG, available
in German at:
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/uig_2005; the Gesetz zur Verbesserung der gesundheitsbezogenen
Verbraucherinformation, VIG, available in German at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/vig/index.html;
the Gesetz über die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen
Republik, StUG, available in German at: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/stug.
Bundesverwaltungsgericht, BVerwG.
Bundesjustizministerium, BMJ.
227
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
secondly, BMJ statements to the Petitions Committee of the Bundestag concerning the
rehabilitation of the victims of the land reform in the Soviet occupation zone. The lowerinstance court had upheld these claims, on the grounds that the IFG was applicable only
regarding the exercise of public administration activities, but not of governmental
activities.
The BVerwG rejected the appeals lodged against these rulings, stating that the BMJ was
a Federal authority obliged to provide access to information under Sec. 1 IFG. The IFG
did not distinguish between an authority’s governmental and administrative activities;
such a differentiation would run counter to the purpose of the Act. The fact that the
BMJ’s statement had been submitted to the Petitions Committee in accordance with a
constitutional obligation was irrelevant. There were no obvious grounds to refuse access
to the requested information (Sec. 3 et seq.), including the protection of
confidentiality 138.
There exists further jurisdiction concerning the Länder-IFG. Out of these, one case shall
be described, concerning the application for information submitted by a journalist to the
PSB Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR).
On 9 February 2012, the Münster Administrative Appeals Court (OVG) 139 ruled that the
WDR is obliged to provide information to a journalist under the IFG-Nordrhein-Westfalen.
The journalist requested information about which companies WDR cooperated with and
how much money was involved. The journalist suspected that the broadcaster, which is
funded by the licence fee, commissioned work from companies that employed members
of its own Broadcasting Council. WDR did not dispute the applicability of the IFGNordrhein-Westfalen, but refused to disclose the information on the grounds that it was
not entitled to reveal trade secrets and internal company information. In the court's
view, WDR is not obliged to disclose information to the press under the PrG-NordrheinWestfalen. However, under the IFG-Nordrhein-Westfalen in conjunction with the WDRGesetz, it must provide access to all information which do not allow conclusions to be
drawn about editorial secrets and the programming mandate. This guaranteed the basic
right to freedom of reporting. Providing access to information did not prevent public
service broadcasters from fulfilling their traditional remit and competing with private
broadcasters 140.
This decision complies with the resolution of the Conference of the Commissioners for
Freedom of Information in Germany from 24 June 2010 which argues in support of a
principal applicability of the IFGs to PSB 141.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
Apart from aid in the context of social welfare, State subsidies for the purchase of
reception devices – e.g. for digital reception – do not exist. For free-TV there do not incur
any further costs, besides the acquisition of equipment. The licence fee remains
unaffected.
138
139
140
141
The decision of the BVerwG (No. 7 C 3.11 and 7 C 4.11) of 3 November 2011 is available in German at:
http://www.bverwg.de/pdf/2820.pdf; see also “ BVerwG Rules on Scope of Freedom of Information Act”
by A. Yliniva-Hoffmann, in IRIS Legal Observations 2012-1/18.
Oberverwaltungsgericht Münster, (No. 5 A 166/10), available in German at:
http://www.justiz.nrw.de/nrwe/ovgs/ovg_nrw/j2012/5_A_166_10urteil20120209.html.
“OVG Rules WDR Must Provide Information under NRW Freedom of Information Act” by P. Matzneller in
IRIS Legal Observations 2012-4/16.
Entschließung der 20. Konferenz der Informationfreiheitsbeaufgragten in Deutschland "Informationsfreiheit
bei öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten", available in German at:
http://www.lda.brandenburg.de/sixcms/detail.php?gsid=bb1.c.216373.de&template=lda_entschl.
228
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The media authority of Berlin-Brandenburg (mabb) had established a funding programme
in order to support the introduction of digital terrestrial television in its region. According
to this programme private broadcasters were subsidised for the use of DVB-T. The
European Commission considered this financial support as violation of European State aid
rules an prohibited the subsidies. This decision was confirmed by the Court of First
Instance (T-21/06) and finally by the European Court of Justice (C-544/09) 142.
As described above the device-dependent licence fee is still valid. Certain reception
devices are exempted from the obligation to pay a fee, e.g. so called second-devices.
Furthermore, certain natural persons can be exempted from this obligation, particularly
due to their social indigence or special needs.
Newspapers are generally sold at affordable prices and newspaper subscriptions usually
offer graduated prices, e.g. specific subscriptions for pupils and students.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
In Germany a completely developed ombudsman's system in the media sector does not
exist. But there are trends which point to such a development. In the media business, in
which traditionally a large audience is demanded and accordingly a lot of conflict material
is given, several of such complaint committees have been established during the last
years. Their job consists in mediating between the readers and clients from the
advertising industry on the one hand, and the editorial staff and publishing companies on
the other hand. In addition to this they shall guarantee an impartial approach with the
treatment of issues. They are contact boards for complaints and they strengthen the
transparency of the whole editorial work. The "Berliner Zeitung" was the first to get an
ombudsman. Since 1997 their ombudsman represents the reader's interests against
authorities, enterprises and politics. In the meantime, ten of such complaint committees
have been established by different German newspapers. Though they are partly called
ombudsman, reader's lawyer or reader's representative, they are working in the same
way, and act as a „megaphone for the readers“.
The established complaint committees are organised differently in Germany. While the
"Frankfurter Rundschau", the "Berlin newspaper", the "Westphalia review", the "franc
post" and the "Main Post" have an internal ombudsman who works in the enterprise, the
"Brunswick newspaper" and the WDR chose an external ombudsman who is not working
firmly in the enterprise, but does his work at determined times.
Another manifestation of these complaint committees are the reader's advisory boards.
These chosen readers meet with the heads of the newspaper editorial staff regularly and
represent the reader's interests in open discussions. The most prominent example of
these reader's advisory boards is Germany’s most popular tabloid "Bild". It has founded
its reader's advisory board in 2007 and still works together with it closely.
Besides, in the Länder media laws (except Baden-Württemberg, Niedersachsen and
Thüringen) complaint procedures are expressly provided. Though they are formulated
differently, they contain the same contents. They enable everybody to raise a complaint
142
Court decision (C-544/09) of 15 September 2011, available in English at:
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=114009&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&m
ode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=453276.
229
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
against a private broadcasting programme either to the media authority and/or to the
broadcasting operator. So, everybody has the possibility to act in case-of-need.
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
The Broadcasting Council (in the ZDF: Television Council) is the uppermost supervision
committee of the German PSB and is responsible for programme control. It supervises
the observance of the legal broadcasting order. In addition to this, the Broadcasting
Council shall grant the free access to the programme of the PSB for all different socially
relevant groups within the underlying concept of safeguarding variety.
Nevertheless, the Broadcasting Council does not determine about the programme
planning, this is a job of the Director-General. The Broadcasting Council just has a
counselling function. Important duties of the Broadcasting Councils are the election and
choice of the Director-General, the supervision of the legally fixed programme principles,
the election of the members of the administrative council and the approval of the
household. The legal regulations concerning the broadcasting company councils are
determined by the Länder.
According to this, the duties and the number of members of the Broadcasting Councils of
the broadcasting stations vary in the different Länder. The Broadcasting Council consists
of members of different social groups and organisations, and is mostly represented by
functionaries (e.g., of the trade unions, women's associations, churches). The
Broadcasting Council shall depict a cross section of the population. In every Land, an own
media institution has been established. They serve as regulation authority for the private
broadcasters.
12.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
12.2.1.
Radio
The radio is a frequently used medium in Germany, it comes right after the television. As
already mentioned in the study of 2004, the radio market in Germany follows the federal
state structure. Nation-wide broadcasting stations of the PSB as well as of the private
broadcasting companies are of less importance. The „long time study mass
communication of ARD and ZDF in 2010“ showed that there were 252 private radio
stations with 54 national ones among them in Germany in 2010. The share of private
broadcasting on the basis of the regional hearing duration sways in the single Länder. In
2009, the share of the market of the private broadcasting merely lay at 21.7 % in
Bremen, while in Sachsen it lay at 55.9 %. 143
While the PSB is financed by license fees, the private broadcasting finances itself by
advertising and other commercial revenues exclusively. According to the "media analysis
2012 radio I", a daily average of 52.1 % of the German-speaking population, aged ten
years or older, listens at least to one of the PSB radio programmes. In 2011, the public
service radio showed a daily range of 50.2% (35.02 Mio.), the private radio a reach of
41.1 % (28.7 Mio.). The whole daily reach of the radio lay at 77.4% in 2011. That
corresponds to an average daily listening duration of 185 minutes per person.
143
Information available at:
http://www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/dlm-band-45_vierter_konzentrationsbericht.pdf.
230
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 55 DE: Main Radio Companies
Major Groups
ARD
Ownership Structure
(Shares %)
PSB
Main Radio Stations
(Shares %)
Bayern1
NDR 1
SR
WDR 4
SWR 4
Axel Springer Ges. für
Radio Hamburg (25.0)
Publizistik
mbH
&
ANTENNE BAYERN 16.0
Axel Springer AG Co.KG(50.1)
HIT RADIO FFH/planet radio/harmony.fm
Friede Springer (7)
(15.0)
others (40.8)
104,6 RTL (100)
Bertelsmann (90.4)
RTL Radio – Die größten Oldies (100)
RTL Group
others (9.6)
Radio Brocken und 89,0 RTL (53.5)
Hit-Radio Antenne Niedersachsen (49.9)
Burda, Prof. Dr. Hubert
(59.98)
Furtwängler,
Elisabeth DONAU 3 FM (50)
BB Radio (50)
Hubert Burda Media (19.99)
Ostseewelle (17.26)
Burda, Jacob (19.99)
Holding
Burda
Radio Galaxy (10.5)
Betriebsführungsgesellsc
haft m.b.H. (0.04)
Dr. Erich Madsack GmbH
(Komplementärin) 0.214
%
Sylvia Madsack 20.896
%
Ursula
Maisel
für
Radio Brocken/89.0 RTL (21,9)
Familiengesellschaft
Madsack
Hit-Radio Antenne Niedersachsen (7,7)
Koller 11.606 %
radio ffn (13,7)
Verlagsgesellschaft
Deutsche Druck- und
RPR1./bigFM (9,7)
Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
23.083
Gebrüder
Gerstenberg
GmbH & Co. KG 7.255 %
26
more
limited
partners (36.946 %)
medien
holding:nord
90elf (100)
GmbH
Regiocast GmbH &
Radio BOB! (100)
Axel Springer AG
RADIO PSR (100)
Co. KG
over
40
individual
ANTENNE MV (55.97)
persons
Source: Information from company websites, Media-Perspektiven Basisdaten
231
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 56 DE: Market shares of Privates and ARD
Market share (%)
10 years and older
Market share (%)
14-49 agers
ARD (public service)
52.9
40.7
Privates
44.5
56.1
2.6
3.2
Others
Source: Media Analyse, ma 2012 Radio I
12.2.2.
Television
The television is still the mostpopular medium in Germany with an average daily reach of
71 % and 222 minutes of viewing duration per person.
Table 57 DE: Daily usage of TV
Daily usage (in min)
Daily coverage of population (in %)
Adolescents Children all viewers
and Adults
(14y+)
(3-13y)
Adolescents
and Adults
(14y+)
Children
all viewers
(3-13y)
2007
223
87
208
73
58
72
2008
221
86
207
72
56
70
2009
226
88
212
73
57
71
2010
237
93
223
73
56
71
2011
236
91
222
72
54
71
Source: ARD Annual Report 2010, p. 382; Media-Perspektiven Basisdaten
In Germany a total of 202 nation-wide private television programmes are admitted by
mid 2011 including 25 foreign-language programmes. All together are 136 programmes
of private broadcasters on air, including a total of 19 full programmes, 12 Germanspeaking and 7 foreign-language programmes. The remaining 117 programmes are
special-interest channels, of which another 14 are foreign-language channels. The
number of organised nation-wide television programmes in German language has more
than doubled since 2003.
The general usage of public service TV broadcasters in Germany remains nearly constant.
From a total of 23 full and special-interest stations of the PSB, the transmission of six
special-interest stations (EinsExtra, EinsPlus, Einsfestival, ZDFkultur, ZDFinfo and
ZDFneo) is made exclusively in a digital way. On the German nation-wide television,
special groupings have developed quite early. These consist of a group of several
operators. The German RTL channels, united under the roof of Media Group RTL Germany
is Europe's largest media entertainment company with a market share of 26.1 %. The
232
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
RTL Group SA with its 45 TV- and 32 radio stations is Europe’s largest operator of private
advertising-financed television and private radio. On rank two the ProSiebenSat.1 Media
AG follows with a market share of 21.3 %. 144
The total market share of the private TV channel providers in 2011 came to 58.3 %, the
share of publicsector operators came to 41.7 %. Fittingly, in 2010 a private TV channel
(RTL) achieved the highest viewers’ market shares. If one adds up the audience shares
of the eight most viewed programmes in Germany, they achieve a share of two thirds of
all viewers.
Table 58 DE: Audience share of selected TV channels of general genre
Audience Share (in %)
TV channel
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
ARD
13.4
13.4
12.7
13.2
12.5
ZDF
12.9
13.1
12.5
12.7
12.1
RTL Television
12.4
11.7
12.5
13.7
14.1
Sat.1
9.6
10.3
10.4
10.1
10.1
ProSieben
6.5
6.6
6.6
6.3
6.2
VOX
5.7
5.4
5.4
5.6
5.6
kabeleins
3.6
3.6
3.9
3.9
4.0
RTL II
3.9
3.8
3.9
3.8
3.6
Super RTL
2.6
2.4
2.5
2.2
2.2
Source: AGF/GfK-Television Research; Media-Perspektiven Basisdaten
In Germany there are four modes of transmission, cable, satellite, terrestrial (DVB-T) and
Internet (DSL-TV). The distribution of the modes of transmission hardly changed during
the last five years: Until July, 2011 the cable was still the most far-reaching transmission
mode with 50.2 % (19 Mio. TV households), followed by satellite with 44.7 % (17 Mio.),
and the terrestrial with 11.8 % (4.4 Mio.). DSL TV increases its reach up to 3 % (1.1
Mio.). 145
In the field of digitisation of transmission paths, steady growths are to be registered. In
contrast to 2010, now 42.5 % of the cable households receive digital TV, in 2010 there
were just 37.8 %. Even more clearly this trend appears within the satellite households.
There, the digital reception rate is already 86.4 %, in 2010 the figure was 79.1 %. This
rate changed again in the end of April 2012, when the analogue satellite television was
turned off and satellite reception is only possible in a digital way. Since the switch-over in
2009, the terrestrial television is already entirely digitally (DVB-T).
All together 67.8 % (25.5 Mio.) of the television households already receive digital
television (2010: 61.7 %).
144
145
Media-Perspektiven Basisdaten 2011.
Digitalisierungsbericht (2011) der Medienanstalten.
233
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
12.2.3.
Press and Publishing
The German newspaper market is the largest in Europe. Newspapers enjoy a high
credibility in Germany. Information from the newspaper is awarded a higher substance
than those from the Internet or television. Especially at regional level, the newspapers
play an essential role. Regional subscription newspapers are Germany’s newspaper
species with the highest reach and print density with a daily sales figure of 13.9 Mio.
copies. For the daily newspapers, a reach of 68.4 % in total is reported for the year
2011. According to this, more than 48 Mio. Germans - that is an average of seven out of
ten Germans over 14 years - read a daily newspaper regularly.
351 different titles with a total circulation of over 23.8 Mio. copies are sold per date of
publication (IVW: II. Quarter 2011) 146.
These are broken down into 18.83 Mio. daily newspaper copies, 3.25 Mio. Sunday
newspapers and 1.76 Mio. weekly newspapers.
In the daily newspaper market, a few publishing groups achieve high market shares.
Nevertheless, the circulation figures in the range of daily and Sunday newspapers
decrease continuously. While in 2004 25.9 Mio. copies were sold, it were only 23.2 Mio.
copies in 2009. 147
Compared to the 2004 study, nothing in the ownership structure of German newspaper
publishers has changed. Even today, the people behind the newspapers are known by
name. Often they are family members, devoted to an far-reaching family tradition. Thus,
the Axel Springer Verlag AG, Germany's largest and most important publishing group, is
still mostly family owned.
146
147
Information available at:
http://www.bdzv.de/markttrends-und-daten/wirtschaftlichelage/artikel/detail/zur_wirtschaftlichen_lage_der_zeitungen_in_deutschland_2011/.
http://www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/dlm-band-45_vierter_konzentrationsbericht.pdf.
234
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 59 DE: Major publishing Companies
Major Group
Axel Springer Verlags AG
Main Titels
Bild
Die Welt
Hamburger Abendblatt
Berliner Morgenpost
Stuttgarter Zeitung
Märkische Oderzeitung
Verlagsgruppe Stuttgarter Zeitung
Die Rheinpfalz
Südwestpresse
Verlagsgruppe WAZ
Verlagsgruppe
Schauberg
M.
19.6%
8.6%
WAZ
Westfälische Rundschau
Neue Rheinzeitung
Thüringer Allgemeine
5.8%
Kölner Stadtanzeiger/Rundschau
DuMont Kölner Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
Berliner Zeitung
Hamburger Morgenpost
5.5%
Münchener Merkur
Verlagsgruppe Ippen (Münchener
Hessisch/Niedersächsische Allgemeine
Zeitungsverlag)
Westfälischer Anzeiger
Verlagsgruppe Madsack
Total Market
Share
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung
Märkische Allgemeine
Neue Presse
4.2%
4.0%
Source: Media-Perspektiven Basisdaten information from company websites
12.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
In Germany there is a variety of websites that provide on-demand services. The main TV
market players have their own video-on-demand services which offer the opportunity to
follow-up viewing.
Art. 11 d (2) No. 4 RStV provides that PSB material of contemporary or cultural history
can be provided without limitations in time, whereas generally all the other broadcast
programmes have to be deleted from the website within seven days after their first linear
broadcast.
In addition to the commercial broadcaster on-demand services, there are a number of
other providers that offer their broadcast material via on-demand services against
payment of a fee or monthly subscription. There is MSN Movies, Videoload, Alice
Videothek and Maxdome (provided by the ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG).
There have been plans of RTL and the ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG to create a channeloverarching online-video platform, but the German competition authority rejected the
establishment for reasons of prevailing market power.
235
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 60 DE: Demand of video files
Demand of video files (at least occasionally in %)
2008
2009
2010
2011
Overall
55
62
65
68
Video platforms
51
52
58
58
Webcasting
14
21
23
29
Simulcasting
12
18
15
21
7
6
3
4
Video podcasts
Source: ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie 2011, www.ard-zdf-onlinestudie.de/index.php?id=312
12.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
Currently, 1.26 Mio. of the digitised television households, use the premium cable TV
service from Kabel Deutschland, 1.6 Mio. have a digital TV subscription of the Unity
Media Group, Kabel BW has over 324,000 pay-TV subscribers and the platform provider
Sky even has 2.76 Mio. direct subscribers.
In addition to this, Germany has a total of about 1.4 Mio. IPTV subscribers, of which
approximately 1.3 Mio. subscribers use the Entertain service of Deutsche Telekom. Alice
TV has 79,500 subscribers and Vodafone has a total of 25,000 TV IPTV customers
(source: company data, state: June 2011).
The Sky Deutschland Fernsehen GmbH & Co. KG is represented on both satellite and
cable platforms. With a reach of 2.759 Mio. subscribers (as of 30 June 2011) it is the
market leader.
There are several cable operators in Germany. 148
Like mentioned in 2004, Kabel Deutschland is still the leading cable operator (Cable
Germany Sales & Service GmbH & Co. KG) with a range of 8.745 Mio. connected TV
households and 1.264 Mio. premium TV-subscriptions (state: March 2011).
It is followed by Unitymedia (Unitymedia NRW GmbH und Unitymedia Hessen GmbH &
Co. KG) with a range of approximately 4.5 Mio. basic cable customers, including 1.6 Mio.
digital TV subscribers (state: June 2011).
The Platform Kabel Kiosk (Eutelsat visAvision GmbH of the satellite operator Eutelsat)
has a potential audience of 3.5 Mio. households (state: February 2011).
Kabel BW (Kabel Baden-Württemberg GmbH & Co. KK) which was recently acquired by
unitymedia reaches more than 2.3 Mio. cable subscribers and 324,000 have pay-TV
subscribers (state: June 2011).
A similar range is reached by tele columbus (Tele Columbus GmbH), which supplies
around 2.3 Mio. cable-connected television homes (state: August 2011).
With over 1 Mio. cable-connected television homes, primacom (PrimaCom Management
GmbH) comes in last (state: August 2011).
148
http://www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/jahresbericht_10-11.pdf.
236
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The HD + (HD PLUS GmbH, a subsidiary of SES ASTRA), with a range of 769,000
households (all households with HD + transmitters can be received) (state: March 2011)
and the Music Television via Satellite– Platinum Stage Ltd, whose range is not
specified. 149
The latest television technology IPTV (Internet Protocol TeleVision), which transfers the
audiovisual contents via a closed network digitally, is available in Germany. The three
providers are:
Table 61 DE: IPTV providers 2011 in Germany
Provider
Entertain
(Deutsche Telekom AG)
Alice TV
(Telefónica Germany GmbH &
Co. OHG)
Vodafone TV
(Vodafone D2 GmbH)
Network
Subscribers
DSL or VDSL
1.3 Mio
-
DSL
DSL
79,500
25.,000
Source: www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/jahresbericht_10-11.pdf
12.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
The recently published results of the media analysis (ma) 2012 Radio I (March 2012)
show consistently high levels of radio use in Germany. 58.43 Mio. people per day tune in
a radio and stay tuned for more than four hours (about 250 minutes). So the daily reach
increased up to 79.6 %.
The increase of the reach is even clearer when the younger ones are looked at: The
young people between 10 and 19 years achieve a daily reach of 69.9 %, that means an
increase by 3.7 % over the last two years (I ma 2010: 67.4 %). The high stability of the
classic radio lies in its multi-channel capability. In particular, the mass distribution of
smartphones and Tablet PCs ensures that the radio is always present and reaches the
people even on the road.
There is a positive development in the range of advertising revenue. In 2010, the radio
advertising revenue achieved 692,1 Mio. Euro 150.
The programme development of the German television market was shaped by the strict
cost management of all competitors in 2010, despite of the significant increase of the
advertising revenue. Nevertheless, the private TV broadcasters could expand its audience
share in 2010 again, this time to 58.3 %. As a consequence thereof, especially the
private broadcasters could raise their advertising revenue. While the main broadcasters
revenues nearly stay stable, the smaller programme broadcaster could raise their
revenue up to 74.6 % in 2010. 151
The second year in a row, the revenues of the sale of newspapers in Germany were
higher than the revenues of advertising and promotion. The traditional rule that two
thirds of the revenue come from advertising and one-third from the sale of newspapers is
149
150
151
Information available at: www.kek-online.de/Inhalte/jahresbericht_10-11.pdf.
Zentralverband der deutschen Werbewirtschaft, Media Perspektiven Basisdaten 2011.
Media Perspektiven 6/ 2011, Media Perspektiven Basisdaten 2011.
237
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
not valid any more since the first major economic and commercial crisis of 2001 to 2003,
but the reversal of the figures is a sign of the structural changes within the industry.
Table 62 DE: Audience statistics
2005
2010
28
23
Television viewing (average min per day)
220
220
Radio listening (average min per day)
221
187
Regional dailies (in mio.)
Source: ARD/ZDF Langzeitstudie Massenkommunikation
Table 63 DE: Revenues in the range of media
Revenue 2005
Revenue 2010
Regional dailies (in mio. Euro)
4476.6
3637.8
Television viewing (in mio. Euro)
3929.6
3953.7
663.7
692.1
Radio listening (in mio. Euro)
Source: Zentralverband der deutschen Werbewirtschaft, Media Perspektiven Basisdaten
2011
12.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The freedom of expression is a very valuable, legally-protected good in Germany, the
safeguard of which is also explicitly enshrined in the Grundgesetz (the German
constitution).
In addition to this, the rights of the media are guaranteed in particular by the duty of
information by the authorities, free admission for press organs, the prohibition of prior
censorship and the right to refuse to give evidence in relation to the protection of
confidential sources. Especially the freedom of the media in its various forms plays a
considerable role in Germany, and is continuously strengthened by the jurisdiction of the
Federal Constitutional Court.
The access to information held by public authorities has improved. As can be seen from
the development of the legislation in the field of freedom of information: unlike before,
the IFG introduced the possibility to receive information irrespective of the proof of a
legitimate interest. The right to access to information under the IFG exists without
presuppositions and thus makes administration more transparent. Exceptions to the right
to access have to be made evident to the applicant. Detrimental to the citizens right to
information is, however, the fact that not all Länder have issued a regional IFG.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that for example in Bayern 152 at least the respective
municipal statutes provide for certain (local) information rights.
Still, freedom of access to information held by public authorities is not enshrined in the
Grundgesetz. Art. 5 (1) Grundgesetz determines the right for every person to inform
him-/herself without hindrance from generally accessible sources, but it does not provide
for the right that an information source is made available.
152
See Activity Report 2010-2011 of the BFDI p. 33.
238
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
As to the improvement of transparency and democracy in public activities, the right to
access to information could be grounded as a positive participation right in the
Grundgesetz. But also in cases in which third party interests are concerned by an
application for information, the applicant’s position is still inferior to that of the third
party if the latter can refer to constitutional rights, as e.g. business secrets. Business and
trade secrets are protected by the exemption clauses of the IFG itself and – besides this
– enjoy constitutional protection. Due to this, a weighing of interests (which is not
foreseen according to the IFG 153) would have to go to the disadvantage of freedom of
information. Although the protection of business and trade secrets is of great economic
importance – as e.g. to the protection against spying out of technical know-how – the
information interests – as e.g. considering alleged corruption or the use of public funding
– have to get their appropriate attention, too.
With a view to technological development as well as to the changed expectations as well
as the ways and means of the citizens to get access to information, public authorities
should of their own accord, proactively provide (free) information to the public (fostering
of open data and open government) 154. A legal and nation-wide uniform obligation would
be conceivable.
Regarding harmonisation and simplification of freedom of information policy, the IFG,
UIG and VIG could be merged, as for instance recommended by the German Conference
of the Commissioners for Freedom of Information 155.
While in the area of television, radio and newspapers the user community has declined
continuously in the last few years, the group of Internet users has grown considerably
(2000: 23 %, 2010: 67 %).
In the most affected newspaper market, the progressive monopolisation within the
means of horizontal concentration is controlled by media merger control limits. Till now,
there are no negative impacts on the freedom of expression and journalistic diversity
observed by the also increasing diagonal integration (cross-media ownership), which can
especially be noticed in the range of daily press and the national television.
Although there is a significant decline in use, the traditional media benefits from the
increased importance of the Internet. In particular, this gets clear if one regards the
advancing use of radio broadcasting over the Internet, as well as the steadily increasing
use of online newspaper subscriptions.
If one distinguishes the average use of the Internet in media and non-media contents,
the mass media reaches 28 % of the adults (in the form of newspaper, radio and
television) via the Internet. In the young target audience even 57 % use mass media
content over the Internet.
153
154
155
Such a reservation, according to which information rights shall be balanced against business secrets
interests, is foreseen in the IFG-Bremen.
Sec. 11 of the IFG of Bremen, which is considered to be very progressive, provides for such a proactive
information policy; BremIFG is available in German at:
http://bremen.beck.de/default.aspx?vpath=bibdata\ges\brifg\cont\brifg.htm&mode=all.
Konferenz der Informationsfreiheitsbeauftragten in Deutschland, IFK; statement available at:
http://www.vigwirkt.de//fileadmin/sites/default/files/Evaluation/
VIG_Stellungnahme_IFK_100902.pdf.
239
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
13.
GREECE
13.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
13.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The Greek Constitution from 1975 guarantees freedom of expression. Article 14 states
that every person may express his thoughts orally, in writing and through the press in
compliance with the laws of the state.
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
Article 14 also states that the press is free; censorship, as well as the seizure of
newspapers and other publications before or after publication, is prohibited.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
- Specific rights for the citizens
The Greek Constitution (Art. 10(3)) and the Code of Administrative Procedure (Art. 5)
stipulate that citizens have the right, upon written request, to access administrative
documents held by public authorities. Citizens also have the right to access private
documents, insofar as a ‘special legitimate interest’ can be established. The right of
access cannot be exercised if the document at hand concerns the private or family life of
others, or if the confidentiality of the document is safeguarded by specific legal
provisions. Authorities may deny access to documents that concern the discussions of the
Ministerial Council or when access can obstruct investigations of criminal or
administrative violations.
Article 14 of the Constitution also guarantees the right to reply to errors published in the
press or broadcast.
In balancing between competing rights with regard to the freedom of expression in the
media and the freedom of information, national courts apply a number of criteria and
principles. Initially, the media must inform the public about issues and aspects that are in
the public interest (not merely to satisfy any kind of curiosity of its audience). The notion
of ‘justified interest’ is invoked to assess the content of articles or news that is of interest
to the society at large. In such cases, media content that interferes with one’s private life
or is sharply critical of one’s actions may be justified by the need to inform the public on
a matter of broad social interest. It is not always straightforward what or whose actions
involve ‘justified public interest’, and Greek courts have not specified consistent criteria
to determine this. 1
1
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
240
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
In 2001, the Greek National Council of Radio and Television (NCRTV) was recognised by
the Constitution, in Art. 15(2), as having an independent status.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
According to the Constitution of 1975, ‘radio and television will be under the direct
control of the state’ 2. Although ‘direct control’ did not necessarily mean ‘state monopoly’,
the state monopoly was justified on the grounds of the limited frequencies being
available, as well as the need to provide full coverage for such a mountainous country
with its many islands.
The Greek constitution provides in Article 15 that audio-visual media must ensure quality
demanded by the social role of radio and television and the cultural development of the
country.
13.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The basic operational framework of private television and local radio is defined by the
Law 2328/1995 3, in essence the first serious attempt to regulate the commercial
broadcasting market effectively.
Law 2644/1998 4 made provision for the supply of broadcasting subscription services and
regulated all new pay-TV services regardless of their process (digital or analogue) and
means of broadcast (terrestrial, cable or satellite).
In general terms, in order for a natural or legal person to enter the broadcasting market
they must obtain a license from the government. A competitive licensing procedure exists
only for terrestrial transmission, due to the scarcity of specific frequencies. Yet, anyone
applying for a satellite transmission licence must submit an application to the NCRTV.
Licences are only granted to limited companies (S.A.), the shares of which should be
registered. In an attempt to prohibit the creation of dominant positions, Law 2328/1995
made provisions for limitations of the holding of licenses, but these provisions have now
been updated by Law 3592/2007 5. This new Law provides for a number of issues, among
them licensing for analogue television, digital terrestrial television (DTT) and media
concentration.
Law 2863/2000 6 provided that the NCRTV is an independent authority and has the sole
responsibility for:
 granting, renewing or revoking licenses for radio and TV services;
 practicing control on radio and TV services, both state and private, on whether they
adhere to the relevant legislation;
2
3
4
5
6
Alivizatos, 1986; Dagtoglou, 1989.
FEK (Official Gazette) A’ 159/1995.
FEK A’ 223/1998.
FEK A’ 161/2007.
FEK A’ 262/2000.
241
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 ensuring political and cultural diversity in mass media in cases where Laws
2328/1995 and 2644/1998 are breached;
 supervising free competition in the mass media industry (together with the Hellenic
Competition Commission and National Telecommunications and Post Commission);
 imposing fines and administrative measures;
 examining requests for remedies for personal insults caused by mass media.
Law 1730/1987 7 united public radio and television into a single corporate body titled ERT
(Elliniki Radiofonia Tileorasi - Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation S.A.). As stipulated by
law, the mission of ERT S.A. is the organization, the exploitation and the development of
state radio and TV, as well as their contribution to public education and entertainment, as
well as the presentation of the activities of the Greek Parliament. It is further provided
that state radio and TV should reach diverse social groups and cover a wide range of
fields, since their purpose is not to make profits but to promote the public interest.
The law does not foresee any specific requirements for other types of media, so general
rules apply to the print media or internet web sites.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
The constitutional basis of media ownership regulation derives from Article 14 (9) of the
Greek Constitution, which outlines the obligation for media outlets to register ownership
status and information regarding the financing of the outlet. The same article provides
for the setting up of laws that would prohibit concentration of media ownership. In effect,
Law 3592/2007 titled ‘New Act on Concentration and Licensing of Media Undertakings’
and known as the “Law of the Basic Shareholder”, was passed by the Greek Parliament in
late 2007. Regarding media concentration the 2007 law also updated the strict ownership
rules that had been passed with Law 2328 from 1995. In particular, Law 2328/1995
stipulated that a natural or legal person could hold only one broadcast licence and only
up to 25% of the capital of the company, while ownership of more than one electronic
mediums of the same type was prohibited. The same rules applied to relatives of natural
persons of up to the fourth degree. Concerning cross-media ownership, a ‘two out of
three’ rule existed, meaning that a single company or individual cannot participate in
more than two traditional media categories (TV, radio or newspapers). The participation
of non-Europeans in the shareholding of media companies was also limited to 25% of the
capital.
However, this strict regulatory framework has not prevented high levels of concentration
of media and cross-media ownership, as evidenced by the control of electronic media
through powerful publishing interests. For example, MEGA Channel, one of the main
terrestrial television channels, is owned by Teletypos SA, a company controlled by a
consortium of the major newspapers publishers in Greece, like Pegasus Publications SA
(owning 26.82%), Lambrakis Press SA (22.11%) and Tegopoulos Publications SA
(2.68%). Teletypos SA also have a 40% holding in Multichoice Hellas SA, which operates
pay-TV digital satellite service “Nova”, a powerful player in the film and sports rights
markets.
In light of evidence of concentration of media ownership and cross-media ownership,
especially between publishing and television interests, the new law attempts to address
7
FEK A’ 145/1987.
242
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
the dominance of the powerful publishing groups and private broadcasters, by reemphasizing the provisions made by Law 2328/1995. In particular, Law 3592/2007 sets
limits for the concentration of media ownership in the print media industry. Concerning
the press industry, the law provides that a person and his relatives (up to the fourth
degree) may own or participate in only:
 a maximum of two daily political newspapers distributed in the main cities of
Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki;
 one daily financial paper and one daily sport paper circulated in Athens, Piraeus or
Thessaloniki;
 two non-daily provincial newspapers issued in different regions;
 one Sunday publication.
Concentration of ownership is also restricted in the broadcasting industry. According to
Law 3592/2007, a joint stock company can own up to a 100% of a television station
and/or one radio station. However, ownership of more than one electronic information
media company is prohibited. The “Law of the Basic Shareholder” permits the parallel
acquisition of shares in more than one media companies under specific qualifications: the
prospective owner should not be among the 10 basic shareholders of the company.
Further, the prospective owner’s market share in both companies should not exceed 35%
for the same media category (for example, two TV stations) or 32% for different media
(for example, one newspaper and one TV station).
Media owners, partners, main shareholders or management executives may not act in a
similar capacity in an enterprise that undertakes public administration.
Thus the scope of application of Law 3592/2007 covers the horizontal and vertical
concentrations between media enterprises that affect the broadcasting and print media
markets. Concentrations in other markets that are relevant for the media (i.e. the market
of content production, the market of rights acquisition, the market of content distribution
or the press printing market) and concentrations that involve media companies operating
at different levels of the supply chain (i.e. upstream and downstream markets) are not
specifically assessed on the basis of Law 3592/2007. This is also the case regarding
concentrations between media enterprises and undertakings in other sectors of the
economy, concentrations that implicate media enterprises with an online presence only,
and the evaluation of the vertical effects that the concentrations coming under the scope
of Law 3592/2007 may produce. All the aforementioned cases fall under the auspices of
general competition law, whose main objective is to provide open and fair competition
(economic consideration), rather than explicitly safeguarding pluralism and diversity
(socio-cultural consideration).
Law 2644/1998 limits licence holders in order to secure pluralism and to avoid the
creation of dominant market positions. For example, an interested party may only
participate in one company that provides subscription-based services using the same
means of distribution as well as a second company that uses different means of
distribution. Furthermore, any natural or legal entity can acquire a maximum of 40% of
the total capital of one subscription-based television (or radio) company. For further
participation in other media industries (i.e. cross-media ownership), the provisions of
Law 3592/2007 are applied.
243
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
In the case of broadcasting the state not only intervenes but is the active agent. Greek
broadcasting was established, as in most European countries, as a state monopoly which
remained after the restoration of Parliament. Therefore, the state became the sole agent
of the broadcast media. The government manipulation of state TV news output is a
suitable example of the dirigist role of the state, since it has traditionally reflected and
reinforced government views and policies 8.
As a result, ministerial censorship was common practice and state control greater than
was the case elsewhere. The general pattern of the Greek state broadcasting media was
(and still is) that a transfer of political power will be followed by an equivalent changeover in the state media institutions' executives. The outcome, especially in the past, was
news and editorial judgments of particular importance in close agreement, if not
identical, to the government announcements on a whole range of policies and decisions.
Thus, it is not surprising that the responsible posts in state broadcasting have come and
gone with great frequency, and when the major political parties, New Democracy
(Conservatives) and PASOK (Socialists), come to power they usually adopt a policy they
strongly criticised when they were in the Opposition 9.
ERT is funded by a combination of the licence fee and advertising revenues, but as
advertising income has been falling steadily following market liberalisation, the main
source of ERT’s income is in fact the licence fee. However, the annual mandatory licence
fee at just over 50 Euro is one of the lowest in Europe and cannot therefore guarantee
the broadcaster’s financial independence. This creates a severe problem. The licence fee
is arguably aimed at protecting ERT from financial pressures and competition, so that the
broadcaster can be accountable to the public and fulfil its public service remit by offering
quality informational, educational and entertainment services. But ERT has difficulty to
fulfil its public service remit and ensure accountability for as long as it is financially weak.
For example, its weak finances prevent it from launching digital and online services, and
therefore conveying content via various platforms (digital, online, mobile) to reach all
citizens in the information society 10.
Law 1730/1987 recognises the administrative and financial independence of public
broadcaster ERT (Art. 1(3)). However, whenever there has been a change in government
this has regularly been followed by shifts in the composition of ERT’s managing board 11.
This demonstrates that selection has for the most part been based on political criteria
and affiliation. The government has regularly exercised the possibility to exert influence
on ERT’s managing board by appointing most of its members. Law 3878/2010 12 which
brought changes to ERT’s executive structure did not entail any modifications in this
regard. The law provided for the separation of the post of the president and of the
managing director but required both to be appointed by a joint decision of the Minister of
Finance and the Minister of Culture and Tourism (MCT) (Art.1). Pursuant to Law
3965/2011 13, the MF and the MCT are also responsible for appointing four members of
ERT’s board whereas ERT employees elect one board member as their representative.
8
9
10
11
12
13
Papathanassopoulos, S. (1990) ‘Broadcasting, Politics and the State in Socialist Greece’, Media, Culture
and Society, 12 (3), pp. 338-97.
Ibid.
Iosifidis, P. (2010) (ed.) Reinventing Public Service Communication: European Broadcasters and Beyond
(London: Palgrave Macmillan).
Papathanassopoulos, 2010.
FEK A’ 161/2010.
FEK A’ 113/2011.
244
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Law 3965/2011 14 provided that all public enterprises in Greece must be governed by 7member managing boards. 15
In the era of the dominance of private television such a practice is rather absurd.
However, the political affiliation of the executives of the public broadcaster is self-evident
as all parties in the Opposition still accuse the government of the day-to-day control of
the news output. In this sense, it could be said that public service broadcasting never
really existed in Greece. The troubled political history of the country formed a ‘state’
rather than a ‘public’ broadcaster. To understand this, one has to note that the license
fee is not collected directly from the TV households, but from the very beginning though
the electricity bills. In this sense there was never a license fee in a Western European
way. By and large, in Greece the public broadcaster was unable to function according to
the public service obligations evident in territories like the United Kingdom, Germany and
Scandinavia. 16
Alongside the aforementioned political influences that have impacted on ERT’s
governance, the Greek state broadcaster has also suffered from the austerity measures
the government has recently adopted. In a midst of a serious economic crisis facing the
country, substantive reductions in labour costs and operational expenses have placed
ERT under severe strain and could substantially undermine its ability to operate in the
public interest. In August 2011, the then government spokesman announced an
overwhelming plan for ERT’s restructuring, including measures such as reducing the
number of ERT TV and radio channels and placing greater emphasis on the Internet and
multimedia services. Whilst one would welcome the government’s firm commitment to
implement a policy of cutting down and rationalising expenses on a chronically failing
company, nevertheless the changes do not address fundamental questions regarding the
role of public service media in society and the characteristics that should define them.
The intention behind the plan is to convert a ‘state’ broadcaster into a ‘public service’
media, but the announced measures do little to reduce undue pressures and influence on
ERT’s operation from the political elite. Meanwhile, excessive emphasis on competition
and efficiency may jeopardise the very essence of public service media, that is, the
fulfilment of a clear public service remit and the offering of quality informational and
educational services that commercial operators are arguably unable to offer.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
Law 2863/2000 17 established the status of the NCRTV as an independent authority
overseeing the broadcasting sector. However, as will be shown below, from its inception,
the NCRTV was not given full autonomy and its role until today remains mainly
consultative.
The NCRTV has the mandate to guarantee that public and private broadcasters comply
with domestic and European legislation, and can impose administrative sanctions in case
of violations. The Council is responsible for the supervision of broadcast content
regulation and is assigned with the task of licensing the radio and television channels
transmitted by terrestrial, cable and satellite networks in line with pre-defined criteria. As
14
15
16
17
FEK A’ 113/2011.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
Papathanassopoulos, S. (2010) in Iosifidis (ed.) Reinventing Public Service Communication: European
Broadcasters and Beyond (London: Palgrave Macmillan).
FEK A’ 262/2000.
245
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
such, the role of the NCRTV remains limited to ensuring compliance with domestic and
European Union provisions.
The Council is a seven-member body, consisting of a president, a vice president and five
members, all appointed by the Greek Parliament. All seven members are elected by the
Conference of Presidents, a cross-party parliamentary body, with a 4/5 majority upon
nomination by the governing party. In the search of candidates meeting the 4/5
majority, this procedure has caused significant delays in the renewal of the Council
members. This has resulted in the automatic extension of the term of office of the
NCRTV’s past members, raising serious concerns about the legality of the Council’s
decisions and independence.
Meanwhile, the limited expertise of the members of the board, combined with their parttime term of employment has devalued the performance of the NCRTV. Other factors
inhibiting the effectiveness of the Council are the lack of financial independence, and
insufficient personnel and information technology equipment. The NCRTV appears to be
unable to establish itself as an authoritative body that effectively regulates the media
and supports media freedom. This stems mainly from the behaviour of the dominant
political forces, which have been ambivalent with regard to promoting the Council’s
independence. This is demonstrated in the politicised procedure for the appointment of
the members of the NCRTV’s board. Another example of the NCRTV’s inability to
effectively regulate the market relates to media ownership. The Council indeed publishes
information on media ownership and shareholding, but does not really engage in a
vigorous assessment of their compatibility with the law. 18
The national Committee of Electronic Means of Communication (EEHME) monitors the
quality of public and private audiovisual services and reports to the NCRTV.
The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC), which was set up in 1977, but was only
awarded an independent status in 1995, is an authority consisting of eight members and
charged with applying competition rules in the media and communications industry (Law
3592/2007). The president and vice-president are selected by the Parliament’s
Conference of Presidents and are appointed by the Ministry of Development,
Competitiveness and Shipping (MDCS), while the remaining six members are directly
appointed by the MDCS (Art. 12(3) Law 3959/2011 19). The HCC guarantees the open
operation of the market and applies the competition law, the principal source of which is
Law 703/1977 20 as amended by Law 3371/2005 21 and Law 3959/2011. Together with the
NCRTV, the authority is responsible for the implementation of Law 3592/2007 on the
‘Concentration and Licensing of Media Undertakings’.
Similarly to competition authorities operating in other European countries, the HCC
pursues the view that the public interest is best met through applying market
mechanisms to electronic communications. This emphasis on industrial and economic
issues makes the authority less keen to focus on socio-cultural issues and values like the
editorial independence of the media or freedom of expression. The decisions of the HCC
largely base their reasoning on economic aspects.
18
19
20
21
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
FEK A’ 138/2011.
FEK A’ 278/1977.
FEK A’ 178/2005.
246
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The National Telecommunications and Post Commission (NTPC) is an independent
administrative authority that regulates, supervises and monitors the electronic
communications and postal services market in Greece. The NTPC consists of nine
members, including the President and two Vice Presidents responsible for the sectors of
electronic communications and postal services respectively. According to Law
3371/2005 22, the President and the Vice Presidents are appointed by the Council of
Ministers, upon proposal by the Minister of Transport and Communications following the
opinion of the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency of the
Parliament. The NTPC's other six members are appointed by the Minister of Transport
and Communications. According to Article 12 of Law 3431/2006 23, the NTPC regulates
issues related to: the definition of the relevant markets, products or electronic
communications services; and the assignment and obligations of operators with
significant market power in the above-mentioned markets in accordance with national
and EU legislation. NTPC also carries out spectrum monitoring. Moreover, the NTPC is
responsible for the application of Law 703/1977 on the control of monopolies and
oligopolies and the protection of free competition. This law was amended by Law
3373/2005 to incorporate the EC provision on pre-notification of mergers. It also
incorporates Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty in accordance with Council Regulation
1/2003, in relation to the activities of electronic communication undertakings.24
The NTPC enjoys financial autonomy and consists of members that demonstrate a high
degree of expertise. It is therefore regarded as an effective and influential regulatory
body. However, similarly to the HCC, its decisions are based on the economic reasoning,
neglecting socio-cultural aspects of the media and communication sectors.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
In general terms, audiovisual media content is subject to state regulation and owners of
broadcasting licences should adhere to certain rules, whereas the print media content is
largely self-regulated on the basis of a variety of codes of ethics (alongside requirements
of general civil and criminal statutory law) 25. The regulatory and self-regulatory forms of
content control also apply to the electronic versions of newspapers and magazines, as
well as the online radio and television channels. But there is currently regulatory
uncertainty regarding the extent to which news content in blogs should be subject to
regulation. The disciplinary councils of the Union of Journalists of Daily Newspapers of
Athens and of the Union of Journalists of Daily Newspapers of Macedonia-Thrace
investigates alleged breaches of the code mainly on the basis of specific complaints.
In line with their constitutional recognition, the freedom of expression through the media
and the right to information are generally accepted as media policy principles. Yet, in
practice, they have not been at the core of the formulation of media policy objectives and
in regulatory implementation in Greece. References to the freedom of expression and the
right to information have been almost absent from media policy documents and elite
discourse. What does prevail, instead, in Greek policy debates, is the declared intent to
render the media free and independent from the multiple political and economic
pressures that have shaped it. In the name of democracy, successive governments have
22
23
24
25
FEK A’ 178/2005.
FEK A’ 885/2006.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
Iosifidis, 2011.
247
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
since the early 1990s – the time when liberation of the broadcasting market occurred repeatedly expressed their commitment to combating the interweaving of interests
between the political and powerful media interests. Courts both at the national and the
European level play a crucial role in shaping the law affecting the media through
statutory interpretation. Individuals whose respect for their personality, reputation,
private/family life, etc. has been violated by the media can make a case to the courts.
The Greek Constitution does not prioritise in abstracto any one right over another.
Instead, competing rights claims must be balanced vis-à-vis one another ad hoc and in
relation to the context of each case at hand. Domestic courts have emerged as
increasingly important norm setters in areas that are directly linked to the freedom of
expression and the freedom of imparting and receiving information through the media.
While they are the central fore where conflicts concerning journalistic freedom are
resolved, nonetheless, their decisions are rarely invoked by political decision-makers
when they formulate laws and policies. 26
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) constitutes an alternative platform for
journalists and individuals to seek correction for the infringement of their rights.
Strasbourg jurisprudence has challenged domestic courts’ case law on a number of
occasions. However, the ECtHR’s rulings have not contributed to broader domestic legal
reforms as far as prevention of new violations of Article 10 of the European Convention
on Human Rights (ECHR) on freedom of expression and freedom of information is
concerned. Similarly, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and in particular its
provisions on the freedom of expression and media freedom have not had a significant
impact on domestic media policy. 27
- Specific positive content obligations
Concerning the preservation and promotion of socio-cultural objectives, and as provided
by the “Law of the Basic Shareholder”, the NCRTV may grant licences for commercial TV
and radio stations only in cases where the commercial outlets serve the “public interest”.
In this sense, the commercial stations are required to provide high-quality programmes,
objective information and news reports, promote cultural development and diversity.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
No such funding schemes exist in Greece.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Greece allows political advertising, but foresees certain legal restrictions to avoid the
discriminatory character of the practice. This includes limits on the maximum election
expenditure that is permitted by the law. Political parties in Greece are usually granted
free airtime to present their programmes, normally in the format of short advertising
spots. As far as the criteria and principles guiding the allocation of free airtime are
concerned, in Greece, allocation of free airtime is made on the basis of the principle of
“analogic equality” that is in analogy with their performance at the previous elections
also taking into account the need for all political parties to inform the public about their
political programmes and ideas. In Greece, paid political advertising of political parties is
26
27
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and
and independence? The case of Greece’
(ELIAMEP).
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and
and independence? The case of Greece’
(ELIAMEP).
A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
248
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
permitted, but there is a permanent and wide-ranging ban on the political advertisement
of persons 28.
As far as the rules regarding political pluralism are concerned, especially during preelection periods, these are also monitored by the NCRTV. According to these rules, media
coverage of political parties is determined on the basis of their parliamentary
representation (Arts 1(1) and 3(22) Law 2328/1995). The extent to which these rules
promote political pluralism though is questioned: the required exposure of political
parties specifically applies to their coverage in the news, disregarding other forms and
channels of political information and communication in the media, while in a pre-election
period, it is based on the agreement reached by a cross-party committee. Besides,
reporting the percentage of news time allotted to each political party, which is contained
in the political diversity reports issued by the NCRTV, tells us little about how inclusive
and balanced is the airing of the different political views and positions that define public
debate. The substantive lines of disagreement may not be defined by political party
positions but by the stances of different kinds of political and social actors depending on
the issue that is covered 29.
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
Besides the press, self-regulation was also expected to be an important means for
defining and respecting a set of principles and rights in news and other programme
content in the audiovisual media. As will be shown in detail below, comprehensive media
legislation that was introduced in the 1990s provided for the creation of self-regulatory
codes of conduct to be adopted by a variety of stakeholders, such as journalists,
advertisers and commercial broadcasting.
The NCRTV can draft codes of conduct for advertising and news and entertainment
programmes and has from time to time provided politicians with recommendations,
which have occasionally been taken into account. On the whole, however, its involvement
in the formulation of normative rules has been marginal or non-existent.
Nevertheless, the Code of ethics for journalists and audiovisual programmes was decreed
by the NCRTV and published in 1990 as part of a collective contract signed by the Union
of Journalists of Daily Newspapers of Athens (ESIEA) and the management of the Greek
Public Broadcaster ERT.
The journalists do not accept any advantage, benefit or promise of benefit offered in
exchange for the restriction of the independence of their opinion while practicing their
function.
The Code of ethics for journalists and audiovisual programmes applies to public
broadcasting - national and local - as well as to private radio and television stations and
stipulates further that broadcast programmes must be of high quality and promote the
national culture; news and factual programmes should be accurate and conform to
reality; the Constitution, laws and institutions of the country must be respected; the
writing in the programmes and their presentation must carefully conform to the
grammatical rules of the Greek language; during the programmes, the rule for both
28
29
See http://www.rtdh.eu/pdf/20060517_epra_meeting.pdf.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
249
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
presenters and guests is to be well-mannered, especially when the programmes are
meant for, or could be watched by, under-age children 30.
In addition to the above code, a Code of conduct for news and other political
programmes for journalists working for broadcast media was ratified by Presidential
Decree 77/2003 31 of March 2003. This code of conduct was drawn up in accordance with
the procedure set out in Article 3(15) of Law 2328/1995.
It applies to all radio and television broadcasts, both free-to-air and subscription
services, and aims at the protection of individuals' rights and respect for public order,
pluralism and democracy, within the framework of the Greek constitution. The code of
conduct regulates specific issues relating to the presentation of news bulletins, reporting
on legal proceedings, the protection of the presumption of innocence of the accused, as
well as the protection of minors, especially when children or adolescents are involved in
criminal acts or accidents. Special concern is demonstrated for the protection of private
life and of the rights of individuals who participate in radio and television programmes
and talk shows. According to the new rules of conduct for news reports and political
programmes, the broadcasting of information acquired through illegal telephone bugging,
secret microphones or cameras is forbidden. It is also explicitly stipulated that the
broadcasting media are bound to respect and not to transmit aggravating comments
regarding the refusal of an individual to participate in a news programme. 32
News should be presented with due accuracy and impartiality. Events must not be
confused with personal views expressed by journalists during a news or political
programme. The broadcasting of breaking news must be restricted and take place after
careful consideration. Special attention is given to the presentation of violence and the
reporting of crimes, criminal techniques and terrorist acts. Such reporting must in no way
encourage imitation. Also, it is explicitly laid down that reporters' investigations must not
be a substitute for police inquiries and interrogations. During the coverage of protests or
party political events it is forbidden to use methods that encourage misleading the
audience. 33
The promotion of the professional interests of journalists employed in newspapers and
the electronic media is ensured through the establishment of four regionally organised
unions, of which two are the most prominent: the Union of Journalists of Daily
Newspapers of Athens (ESIEA) and the Union of Journalists of Daily Newspapers of
Macedonia-Thrace (ESIEMTH). The Periodical and Electronic Press Union (ESPIT)
represents journalists who work for magazines and the online media. Grouped under the
Pan-Hellenic Federation of Journalists’ Unions (POESY), the unions’ principal aim is to
negotiate labour contracts, wages, employment conditions and social security benefits
with the state and the employers. The unions are also tasked with supervising journalists’
ethical performance, self-regulating journalists’ professional behaviour, and protecting
the principles of journalistic autonomy and editorial independence. Relevant here is the
Code of Conduct of Greek Journalists, decreed by the NCRTV and published in 1990 as
part of a collective contract signed by the ESIEA and the management of the Greek
30
31
32
33
See International Journalists’ Network.
FEK A’ 75/2003.
Kostopoulou, M. (2003) Decree No. 77/2003 “Code of conduct for news and other political programmes”,
Official Journal A, 28 March 2003, published in IRIS legal observations of the European audiovisual
observatory, IRIS 2003-7:10/20. Available at: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2003/7/article20.en.html.
Kostopoulou, M. (2003) Decree No. 77/2003 “Code of conduct for news and other political programmes”,
Official Journal A, 28 March 2003, published in IRIS legal observations of the European audiovisual
observatory, IRIS 2003-7:10/20. Available at: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2003/7/article20.en.html.
250
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Public Broadcaster ERT. The rules in the code apply both to public and private
broadcasting channels 34.
The disciplinary councils of the aforementioned unions investigate alleged breaches of the
code ex officio, and have the power to impose penalties (i.e. reprimands, suspension of
membership or expulsion) on journalists found guilty of breaches, such as defamation,
distortion of facts or anti-collegial behaviour. It should be noted that it is not mandatory
for a journalist to be a member of a professional union, while there are a number of
requirements that must be fulfilled before qualifying for entry, such as a minimum of
three years of employment as a journalist. As the code and the imposition of penalties
apply only to members, self-regulation through the code is limited. 35
On another issue, the tasks of the journalists are not always clear, despite the drafting of
the code of ethics. For example, in Greece it is incompatible for journalists to hold more
than one post, especially if the second post is not related to the function of journalism.
Specifically, it is not allowed for journalists to be holders of a stake in a media and/or
advertising company, or participate in public relations companies, or relate with political
offices. However, in practice some journalists do. The Journalists Union (ESIEA) is aware
of the problem, but has only recently started drafting principles for journalists addressing
it. ESIEA has initiated negotiations with the relevant Minister. If and when these
principles are enforced they will complement the code of ethics.
In the midst of an economic crisis in 2011-2012 Greek journalists working in public
broadcaster ERT AE went on a prolonged strike as many of them faced short-term
contracts, low salaries, and even redundancies as there was wide speculation that ET1
would close down. In addition, many journalists working in private media felt their jobs
insecure and in fact some were made redundant following the closure of commercial
television channel ALTER in early 2012. There have been reported arrests of leaders of
the Greek journalists’ trade unions, apparently carried out in direct response to trade
union actions. It should be noted though that Greece has ratified the International Labour
Organisation (ILO) Convention of 1987 and has committed itself to respect the principles
of freedom of association.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The development of the aforementioned self or co-regulatory mechanisms – code of
ethics of Greek journalists; code of conduct for news and other political programmes has provided a valuable alternative to governmental regulation. Of course, one could
argue that, as the above codes have been elaborated by the regulatory agency NCRTV,
they cannot be considered as purely self-regulatory mechanisms. Instead, they can be
considered as cooperative regulatory measures in the meaning of a combination of nonstate regulation and state regulation in such a way that a non-state regulatory system
links up with state regulation (‘co-regulation’).
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA), governed by a seven-member plenary, is
the independent administrative body which oversees the implementation of regulations
referring to the protection of personal data against processing and the privacy of
34
35
The provisions of the Code of ethics for journalists and audiovisual programs in terms of journalists are to
be found in http://www.esiea.gr.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
251
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
individuals 36. The HDPA is primarily tasked with the granting of permits for the collection
and processing of public figures’ sensitive data for journalistic purposes. However, the
authority openly refrains from granting such permits, as it considers their provision a
repressive measure against the press, which is prohibited by the Constitution 37. The
HDPA is also responsible for examining complaints and issuing decisions on alleged
breaches of data protection legislation. In examining such cases, the authority seeks to
balance the freedom of expression and the service to the public’s interest in information
with an individual’s right to privacy. 38
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
Law 2863/2000 provided that the regulatory agency NCRTV has the sole responsibility for
granting, renewing or revoking licenses for terrestrial transmission of broadcasting
services.
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
The access to the distribution networks of cable and satellite is not regulated by law. It is
a matter of private legal agreements between the operator of the network and the
broadcaster. In the majority of such agreements the network operator pays to the
broadcaster for the right to distribute his programmes. The circulation instruments for
print media are not regulated by law.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
No such rules exist in Greece.
- Role of platform operators
ERT is active as a network operator and according to Law 3592/2007, commercial
analogue TV broadcasters are encouraged to collaborate with ERT in forming a single
multiplex operator company that will act as the network operator for the whole Greek
Digital Terrestrial Platform. Typically, the venture was politicised. One of the main points
of contention for opposition parties for this new ERT’s digital subsidiary was that in this
way ERT Digital would be a mixed public-private company, with the state retaining a
51% stake. The Opposition parties charged that this signalled the gradual beginning of
the end of the public nature of the public broadcaster since private investors would
participate in its capital.
The private terrestrial broadcasters in Greece accuse the government of giving the ‘green
light’ to the public broadcaster to enter the digital terrestrial landscape and allege that
they are left only with promises. In effect, the first Law that deals with the issue of digital
TV (independently of platform such as satellite, cable, terrestrial or IPTV) is Law
3592/2007 which makes a clear distinction between platform, or multiplex (network)
operator and content provider. The platform or multiplex operator is under a general
36
37
38
Law 2472/1997, transposing Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24
October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the
free movement of such data, OJ L 281, 23/11/1995, p. 31; see also Law 3471/2006.
see Art. 14(2) of the Greek Constitution and HDPA decisions no 26/2007, para. 11, no. 17/2, para. 18 and
no. 63/2010, para. 6.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
252
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
license regime, provided that the undertaking/company is registered by the National
Telecommunications and Post Commission. The Ministry of Transport and
Communications and the Ministry of Press and the Media (renamed Secretariat General of
Mass Media) are responsible for establishing the digital frequencies map and plan for the
relevant assignments and allotments. The Law makes it possible for licensed television
stations to digitally transmit their analogue TV programme using frequencies that are to
be allocated for the period up until the digital switchover.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
Law 3592/2007 deals with the issue of digital TV frequencies allocated to multiplex
(network) operators. According to the Law, the responsibilities for the Ministry of
Transport and Communications and the Secretariat General of Mass Media are to
establish the regulatory framework for the licensing procedure; create the frequency map
and establish the technical requirements; and grant the licenses. The two bodies have up
to this point created a provisional frequency map where the whole country is being
divided into 14 broader service areas.
The granting of terrestrial broadcasting licenses is based on a tender initiated by the
NCRTV. Candidates are classified based on the following criteria: duration of service;
economic viability; number of employees; programming; negative marking; and
merging. Following the adoption of Law 3431/2006, the authority is responsible for the
provision of general authorisations to operators providing electronic communication
networks and/or services. The NCRTV can collaborate with NTPC on technical matters
(allocation of electromagnetic spectrum, digital dividend, etc.) but such collaboration is
rare.
Law 3592/2007 does not provide for a special authority (organisation or body) with
competence to settle issues relating to the switchover process, nor does it propose a
timetable for this process. However, it is widely believed that Greece will be ready for the
switchover within 2012-15. This delay is mainly due to the indecision of the private
broadcasters especially within the current financial crisis. These private consortia have
adapted a ‘wait-and-see’ policy in case they can be supported by the government at a
later stage.
However, according to the same Law, commercial analogue TV broadcasters are
encouraged to collaborate with ERT in forming a single multiplex operator company that
will act as the network operator for the whole Greek Digital Terrestrial Platform.
Moreover, the Law provides that 15% of the taxes earmarked for ERT go to the new
public-private digital company, dubbed ERT Digital and allows the ERT board to provide
material resources to the new company.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
Article 14 (9) of the Greek Constitution affirms the importance of ensuring transparency
and pluralism in information across the media and in the workings of the media industry.
The imposition of transparency requirements (for example with regard to media
ownership or the media’s types of funding) is not linked to media education, thereby
undermining the ability of consumer-citizens to make informed choices about the media
services they choose and consume.
253
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In the past few years, there have been adopted a number of measures to increase
transparency in the operation of the media. The Secretariat General of Mass Media keeps
record of the allocation of state subsidies and other support tools aiming at the media,
including the amount of public sector advertising that is channelled to specific outlets and
the amount of total press distribution and telecommunications subsidies, which are
published on its website. Such information, however, is neither always presented in a
comprehensive manner nor is it regularly updated. 39 Concerning the electronic media,
the NCRTV publishes on its website 40 all licensed radio and TV outlets, mentioning the
company name, contact details and the scope of the outlet’s territorial coverage
(national, regional/local). The regulatory agency is also charged with keeping record and
shareholder information of media and media-related enterprises (including press
undertakings, advertising and media research companies) 41.
While this information is accessible to the public through the authority’s website, there is
no data on the degree to which people are actually aware of it or the percentage of the
population actually accessing it. 42 Art. 6 of PD 109/2010 43 also contains rules that cater
for increased transparency in the audiovisual media sector by mandating audiovisual
media service providers to make their company name, address and contact details
available through their website or teletext service. Press undertakings are required to list
the name(s) of their owner (natural or legal person), publisher and manager in their
edition 44.
- Accountability of public service media
As aforementioned Law 1730/1987 defines the mission of the Greek public broadcaster
which is to inform, educate and entertain the Greek nation. ERT’s broadcasts must be
governed by the principles of objectivity, polyphony, good quality of broadcasts,
preservation of quality of the Greek language, promotion and dissemination of Greek
culture and traditions. Furthermore, ERT must ensure radio and television coverage and
reporting of the activities of the Parliament, of the pre-election campaigns by the political
parties, of issues related to local government, and of the activities of other organisms
involved in the cultural, social and economic development of the country. The information
is handed over to parliament on a yearly basis.
- Freedom of information laws
As aforementioned the Greek Constitution guarantees the right to information. The right
for citizens to obtain information from state/municipal institutions is a generally accepted
media policy principle, but without any ordinary law fundaments provided for it yet.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
The Greek print media have been supported by indirect subsidies, such as distribution
subsidies, reduced value added tax, and preferential rates for telecommunication
services.
39
40
41
42
43
44
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
http://www.esr.gr.
See Art. 10a Presidential decree (PD) 213/1995 (FEK Α’ 112/1995) and Art. 10 Law 3310/2005 (FEK A’
30/2005) as amended by Law 3414/2005 (FEK A’ 279/2005.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
Presidential decree 109/2010 transposed the AVMS Directive.
See Art. 3 Law 1178/81, FEK A’ 187/1981.
254
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The public broadcaster ERT is obliged to provide media services for all Greek citizens
(universal coverage). Analogue broadcasting in Greece will probably be switched-off
sometime between 2012-2015. The owners of digital networks (multiplexes) are
technically ready for the digital switchover and are already broadcasting some of the
programmes digitally. However, not all households are equipped with television sets or
decoders capable of receiving digital services.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
Relevant to the consumer policy and protection is the Consumer Ombudsman, which was
established with Law 3297/2004 45 and represents an independent agency of extrajudicial
dispute resolution in the area of consumer disputes. This agency is supervised by the
Minister of Development.
Between the poles of state regulation and self-regulation, a rare instance of coregulation, is that of the ethics committees, which national broadcasting media (both
public and private) in Greece are required to establish. Within the existing legal
framework, in order to be licensed, radio and television channels must create and enter
into multi-party self-regulatory agreements that define and adopt rules of conduct and
ethics standards concerning media content (Art. 8(1)-(2) Law 2863/2000). The parties to
such self-regulatory agreements are also required to establish ethics committees
(Epitropes Deontologhias) responsible for overseeing the implementation of the
respective content-related rules and principles, which must in turn communicate their
decisions to the NCRTV (Art. 8(3)-(4) Law 2863/2000). In practice, however, and
similarly to the fate of self-regulation, this co-regulatory measure has largely remained a
dead letter. To the extent that they have actually been established, these committees
have been inactive, not having imposed any sanctions as provided for by the relevant
law. 46
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
The representative supervisory Assembly of Viewers and Listeners (ASKE) is a
consultative body which exercises control over programmes and advertisements.
13.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
13.2.1.
Radio
Radio is an important means of information (news) and entertainment (notably music) in
Greece. ERT S.A. owns five NATIONAL radio broadcasting stations (Second Programme,
ERA-3, NET Radio, ERA Sport, KOSMOS) and an international sixth programme (ERA-5),
which transmit via AM to Mediterranean countries, Baltic and Black Sea countries,
western Europe, Africa and nearby Asian countries. However, these stations attract
negligible market shares and do not feature in the Table One below. The first non-pirate
private radio station was ATHENA 9.84 FM, which went on air in 1987 broadcast by the
Municipality of Athens. Nowadays the station is still on air and owned by Municipality of
Athens with journalist G. Politis as director, but does not feature in the table below as it
has a mere 0.4% listenership share. Currently, around 1,058 radio stations broadcast
45
46
FEK A’ 259/2004.
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
255
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
regularly in Greece (among them 56 in Attica prefecture), the vast majority of which are
private and transmit locally or regionally. Most private stations (928) are not officially
licensed but are considered eligible to be awarded a licence.
Multicultural radio is also developing fast as a response to the cultural diversity that
currently characterises Greek society after an influx of immigrants and the EU EQUAL
programme. There is a range of multicultural radio stations, such as Athens &
Thessaloniki Community Radio, Radio Filia, which broadcast via a local frequency or
online. Also, some radio stations such as ATHENA 9.84 and SKAI adopt their programmes
for multicultural publics. Around 40.6 percent of immigrants to Greece listen to the radio
on
a
daily
basis
(see
‘Media
Landscape:
Greece’,
at:
http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/greece).
Table 64 below shows the listenership shares of the top fifteen (licensed) radio stations in
the Attica region in the last 3-month period of 2011 and the first 3-month period of
2012. It can be seen that SKAI (owned by Alafouzos Publishing Company) and REAL
(owned by entrepreneur Andreas Kouris – who also owns music radio station LOVE along
with various publishing outlets) are the top news stations in terms of listenership share
and typically set the political agenda. The majority of the rest of the radios with a
significant share, such as RYTHMOS, KISS and MELODIA have mainly a music format. In
recent years, there has been an increase in sport radio programmes with NOVA SPOR in
the lead with 4.4% of the market.
Table 64 GR: Market shares of the top 12 licensed radio stations in the Attica
region (2011-2012)
RANK
(2011)
RADIO
STATIONS
1
SKAI 100.3
2
3
REAL 97.8
NOVASPOR
94.6
DIESI 101.3
4
5
6
7
8
9
PARENT COMPANY
DIRECTOR OF
STATION
Emporiki
(Alafouzos
Publishing)
Real Media SA
NOVASPOR FM
Alafouzos
AE
Radio
Communication
Sound & Rythm AE
Kiss Operations AE
Melodia AE
Three D AE
International Radio
10
11
RYTHMOS 94.9
KISS 92.9
MELODIA 99.2
BEST 92.6
ATHENS
DJ
95.2
GALAXY 92.0
EN LEFKO 87.7
12
LOVE 97.5
13
LAMPSI 92.3
Love
Radio
Broadcasting AE
Lampsi AE
14
15
RED 96.3
PEPPER 96.6
Airlink AE
Captain Hijack AE
Aktina
Frontstage AE
MARKET
SHARES
(%, 2011)
7.6
MARKET
SHARES
(%, 2012)
5.9
Kouris
Christoglou
4.6
4.4
9.8
4.4
G. Psaltis
3.9
4.6
G. Mitrou
P. Kostakis
O. Ioannou
Lymperis
D. Tsakaliotis
3.9
3.8
3.5
3.5
3.3
3.6
3.5
5.1
3.1
2.9
S. Georgakis
Daskalopoulou,
P. Oikonomou
A. Kouris
3.3
3.1
3.2
2.8
3.0
2.9
M.
Tsaousopoulos
Spanolios
K. Sfaelos
2.9
2.6
2.9
2.3
2.9
2.5
Source: FOCUS BARI, radio listenership share in the Attica region in the periods
26/09/2011 – 18/12/2011 and 02/01/2012 – 25-02-2012
256
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
13.2.2.
Television
Television broadcasting in Greece was introduced in 1966, with the first network, ERT
broadcasting out of the capital Athens, as a state-owned monopoly. However, throughout
the 1980s, as the country began to reform and modernize at an unprecedented pace,
audiences demanded a wider choice of viewing options, following the example of other
European countries which had already allowed private television. Also, as a member of
the European Union, Greece had to adapt to TV market liberalization policies pursued by
the European Commission. But similarities with other European TV markets stop there,
for the development of the Greek TV sector is distinctly different from that of most EU
member states. In more particular:
Public television took its first steps during a military junta (which ruled Greece in 19671974), in an environment hostile to the development of objective TV broadcasts.
The direct dependence of public television on political authority continued even after the
restoration of democracy and undermined the validity and reliability of ERT. The problem
was intensified by frequent changes in ERT’s management. This was not conducive to
long-term planning and action-taking.
The process of liberalization at the end of the 1980s was conducted without any prior
economic analysis of the consequences on existing companies. ERT was the main victim
of this de-facto liberalization as it lost a significant part of its advertising income almost
overnight and today has in fact the lowest audience share of all European public TV
broadcasters.
The first attempt to regulate the TV sector occurred in the mid-1990s, but even at the
time of writing private TV channels are operating under a quasi legal state as they only
have provisional licenses.
The penetration of cable and satellite services is negligible, mainly because of the wide
availability of free-to-air national channels.
The restoration of democracy in 1974 brought new impetus to the Greek media
landscape and television became the dominant medium of information and
entertainment, penetrating citizens’ everyday life. The TV sector is characterized by
cataclysmic changes which have continued with undiminished intensity since the end of
the 1980s, when the first private television stations MEGA (owned by Tylepypos, a
consortium of major newspaper publishing interests) and ANT1 (owned by ANT1 TV S.A.
with interests also in radio, publishing and recording) went on air. Alongside these
pioneer private services and the three public channels ET1, NET and ET3, there is a
multitude of national terrestrial private channels, funded mainly by advertising, the most
important of which are ALPHA, STAR and SKY (commercial channel ALTER closed down in
early 2012).
Private TV grew and expanded rapidly, but it strives to adjust to a pluralistic profile in a
highly politicized and commercialized environment, driven by an increasing populism. In
1994 Multichoice Hellas (owned by multinational NetMed BV) started offering analogue
subscription TV services and in 1999 introduced the digital service NOVA, now occupying
a monopoly status in the digital satellite pay-TV market after the collapse of rival digital
satellite platform Alpha Digital Synthesis (ADS). NOVA has acquired the rights to
broadcast latest blockbusters as well as live football matches from the Greek League and
European Champions League (now it shares these rights with free-to-air terrestrial TV
broadcasters). As in many other European countries public broadcaster ERT has acted as
257
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
a pioneer introducing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) exclusive TV services to the
Greek public. The digital channels are being broadcast free-to-air and are funded
exclusively from ERT’s budget as they carry no advertisements. ERT’s digital terrestrial
offerings are only available in the big cities of Athens, Thessaloniki and a handful of other
major cities. ERT also plans to launch a second multiplex which will broadcast the current
analogue channels (ET1, NET and ET3) and the Parliament Channel. Meanwhile it is
planning to launch an interactive information service for citizens called info+. 47
While satellite TV has found a niche in the Greek audiovisual market, cable TV is virtually
non-existent. Likewise, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is largely unknown to Greeks.
On the contrary, Digital terrestrial Television (DTT) seems to be taking off, boosted by
the Greek government’s decision to switch-off the analogue terrestrial frequency during
2012-2015, responding to the European Commission’s intention to harmonize switch-off
dates. As it is the case in most other European countries, the government has introduced
a new law which intends to achieve the migration from analogue to DTT through the
public broadcaster in collaboration with commercial analogue TV broadcasters. ERT has
responded by setting up a subsidiary ERT Digital and therefore acting as a pioneer in
introducing DTT services. More specifically, since 2006 the public broadcaster has
launched three digital terrestrial channels which are available in big cities – Prisma Plus,
Cine Plus and Sport Plus. The reception of the signal is free-to-view and the plan is to
extend the coverage nation-wide, the programmes are advertising-free and they are
different from those of the main channels ET1, NET and ET3, thereby making them more
innovative and attractive. But their audience share is negligible.
Greeks are avid viewers. It is striking that in the multi-channel, Internet era television is
still considered the most important medium for news (78% of Greeks turn to TV for
news), followed by the press, the Internet and radio. In 2010-2011 the average daily TV
viewing totalled 265 minutes, well above the European average. This could be attributed
to the wide availability of popular national TV series, US blockbuster movies and sporting
events, in particular football, which has become available on free-to-air television,
whereas previously was confined to satellite pay-TV operator NOVA. All of the most
popular programmes are available on terrestrial analogue television, which is the
dominant transmission form. There is low satellite pay-TV penetration and negligible
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) shares (see Table 65). This, however, may offer a
substantial growth opportunity for broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as the
broadband Internet access market matures.
Table 65 GR: TV shares in Greece, by transmission medium (2011)
Analogue Terrestrial Television
86%
Pay TV (satellite)*
10%
Digital Terrestrial Television
4%
Source: Author’s analysis based on company reports
* Cable TV and IPTV (broadband TV) are virtually non-existent
Table 66 gives us a snapshot of the trends in audience shares in the years 2010-2011,
indicating that the three channels of public broadcaster ERT combined had in 2011 one of
the lowest audience shares among their European counterparts. NET, a purely news
channel is the most popular public channel with a share of 7.7%, followed by ET3 (mostly
addressed to citizens of Northern Greece) at 3.4% and general interest channel ET1 at
47
Papathanassopoulos, S. and K. Papavasilopoulos (2009) ‘The Status of Digital Television in Greece’ in W.
Van den Broeck and J. Pierson (eds.) Digital Television in Europe (Brussels: VUBpress), pp. 91-100.
258
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
2.5%. There are six commercial channels, of which the two leading ones are MEGA and
ANT1 with shares as high as 19.8% and 16.7% respectively. The audience shares of
these two leading commercial channels decline steadily over the years due to the fierce
competition from other private operators, like ALPHA, STAR, SKY and ALTER (which
however closed down in February 2012). There is also speculation that ET1 will be closed
down as part of the Greek government’s austerity plan to cut down public expenses.
Table 66 GR: Annual % audience shares of the main Greek TV channels (20102011)
Year
ET1
NET
ET3
ANT1
MEGA
ALPHA
STAR
ALTER
SKAI
OTHER
2010
3.0
9.5
3.6
15.1
20.2
12.2
9.7
10.9
4.0
11.8
2011
2.5
7.7
3.4
16.7
19.8
12.9
10.3
8.9
4.9
12.9
Source: AGB Nielsen Media Research, Annual Reports 2010, 2011
Table 67 shows that MEGA and ANT1 are also leaders in terms of advertising
expenditure, for the first half of 2011 they attract 31.6% and 27.3% respectively of the
total advertising expenditure in Greece, followed by ALPHA at 17.4%, STAR at 15.6%
and ALTER at 5.9%. State channels NET and ET1 combined got only 2% advertising
share in the first half of 2011, down from 4.6% in 2010 (ET3’s advertising share is
negligible). It can be seen that the two leading channels MEGA and ANT1 have in fact
increased their advertising share in recent years (2008-2011), whereas in the same
period the share of most of the other private channels has either decreased or remained
unchanged.
Table 67 GR: Allocation of TV advertising expenditure (%, 2008-2011)
CHANNEL
OWNERS
MEGA
Teletypos SA
M.
Kiriakou
Group
Vardinoyiannis
family;
Press
Institution SA
E. Tsotsoros
Kouris,
Pavlopoulou,
Koutra
Public
Service
Broadcaster
ANT1
STAR
ALPHA
ALTER
NET/ET1
2008
2009
2010
31.3
31.4
29.8
2011
(Jan-MAY)
31.6
19.4
21.5
25.5
27.3
16.8
17.2
14.1
15.6
15.5
14.3
15.4
17.4
10.8
11.4
10.3
5.9
6.0
3.9
4.6
2.0
Source: Media Services
259
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
13.2.3.
Press and Publishing
The newspaper press is an industry in decline as Greek national newspaper circulation
has been falling steadily in the past decades. Similarly to the trends observed in most of
the other European countries, the role of newspapers as the main purveyor of
information and entertainment in Greece was usurped first by television and later by the
internet, digital media and online social networks. However, many publishers have
expanded into broadcasting following the deregulation of the market, thereby raising
levels of media market concentration and especially cross-media ownership. In addition,
almost all newspapers have launched online versions, though the online revenues cannot
compensate for off line revenues.
Saturday and/or Sunday newspapers dominate circulation with the offering of free
magazines and gifts like CDs, films and books. This is followed by evening newspapers,
whereas morning papers come third in circulation terms. In 2011 there were 13 evening
newspapers selling about 45 million copies, 21 Sunday newspapers selling about 37
million copies, 6 morning newspapers selling about 15 million copies, and just 1 financial
newspaper (CHRIMATISTIRIO) with a total circulation of 226,765. There were also 14
Monday sports newspapers selling 23 million copies and 12 Sunday sports papers selling
just above 700,000 copies.
Table 68 below shows the numbers of copies sold and the shares of the morning papers
(including their Sunday publications). It can be seen that the market is dominated by
KATHIMERINI, a conservative newspaper owned by the Alafouzos family, with serious
economic and political analysis. A distant second is left-wing newspaper RIZOSPASTIS,
followed by four other publications with small shares. Most of the newspapers are sold in
the Attica region, covering Athens and Piraeus.
Table 68 GR: Morning Newspapers 2011 (Sunday publications included)
NEWSPAPERS
OWNERS
ATHENS/
PIRAEUS
OTHER REGIONS
TOTAL
SHARE
%
KATHIMERINI
Alafouzos
family
6,938,120
4,873,844
11,811,964
79.73
RIZOSPASTIS
Greek
Communist
Party
1,153,437
1,205,785
2,359,222
15.93
AVGI
307,484
179,089
486,573
3.28
NIKI
72,583
19,348
91,931
0.62
LOGOS
39,498
4,326
43,824
0.3
AKROPOLIS
14,921
1,072
15,993
0.14
TOTAL
8,526,043
6,283,464
14,809,507
100.00
Source:
Athens
Daily
(http://www.eihea.gr/default_en.htm)
Newspaper
260
Publishers
Association
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 69 shows the numbers of copies sold and the shares of the evening papers
(excluding their Sunday publications). It is obvious that evening papers are selling far
more copies than the morning ones. The market also appears to be more competitive
than the morning paper market with five papers attracting shares of between around
10% and 22%. In contrast to the morning press, the evening press shows a balance in
the number of newspaper copies sold in the Attica region and the rest of Greece.
Table 69 GR: Evening Newspapers 2011 (Sunday publications excluded)
NEWSPAPERS
OWNERS
ATHENS/PIRA
EUS
OTHER
REGIONS
TOTAL
SHARE
%
TA NEA
Lambrakis
Press SA
5,629,668
4,964,457
10,594,125
22.53
ETHNOS
Bobolas
Group
2,805,113
4,604,278
7,409,391
15.59
ELEFTHEROTYPIA
Tegopoulo
s
Publishing
3,498,856
3,476,400
6,975,256
15.16
2,768,075
3,361,023
6,129,098
12.85
1,925,518
2,428,770
4,354,288
9.13
DIMOKRATIA
688,186
785,736
1,473,922
6.13
ADESMEFTOS
TYPOS (RIZOS)
1,380,927
1,222,659
2,603,586
5.38
716,737
1,629,974
2,346,711
4.85
ALEFTHEROS
704,618
97,595
802,213
2.92
AVRIANI
368,756
366,895
735,651
1.56
VRADINI
446,967
221,677
668,644
1.41
ESTIA
459,128
186,031
645,159
1.34
ELEFTHERI ORA
264,864
281,715
546,579
1.15
TOTAL
21,657,413
23,627,210
45,284,623
100.00
ESPRESSO
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS
EXEDRA
SPORTS
TON
Press
Institution
SA
Source:
Athens
Daily
(http://www.eihea.gr/default_en.htm)
Newspaper
Publishers
Association
Table 70 shows the numbers of copies sold and the shares of the Sunday press. It should
be noted that most of the Sunday newspapers are affiliates of the same groups owning
the evening papers. The Sunday papers are selling approximately the same number of
copies as the evening press, though their circulation in the Athens/Piraeus region is
261
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
smaller compared to other regions. The market is competitive with six newspapers
having a circulation share of roughly between 12% and 18% of the total market.
Table 70 GR: Sunday Newspapers 2011
NEWSPAPERS
OWNERS
ATHENS/
OTHER
REGIONS
PIRAEUS
PROTO THEMA
TOTAL
SHARE
%
T.
Anastasiadis
2,753,983
4,131,641
6,885,624
18.05
KATHIMERINI
KYRIAKIS
TIS
Alafouzos
family
3,324,617
3,174,693
6,499,310
17.03
TO
VIMA
KYRIAKIS
TIS
Lambrakis
Press SA
2,609,986
3,493,121
6,103,107
15.99
2,000,813
2,801,560
4,802,273
12.59
REALNEWS
ETHNOS TIS KYRIAKIS
Bobolas
Group
1,660,161
2,818,970
4,479,131
11.74
KYRIAKATIKI
ELEFTHEROTYPIA
Tegopoulos
Publishing
SA
1,699,633
2,318,270
4,017,903
11.20
TYPOS TIS KYRIAKIS
Press
Institution
SA
586,218
990,929
1,577,147
4.22
RIZOSPASTIS
KYRIAKATIKOS
Greek
Communist
Party
432,890
611,413
1,044,303
2.74
265,294
362,230
627,524
1.68
TO PARON
253,235
237,706
490,941
1.29
OTHER
-
-
-
3.41
ESPRESSO
KYRIAKIS
TIS
TOTAL
100.00
Source:
Athens
Daily
(http://www.eihea.gr/default_en.htm)
13.2.4.
Newspaper
Publishers
Association
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
According to IAB Hellas, the amount of investment in online display advertising in Greece
reached 62 million Euro, up 7% compared to 2009 when online display advertising was at
57.8 million Euro. This is a small increase compared to other European countries,
especially from northern Europe, but it is still significant as it occurred in the midst of an
ongoing economic crisis facing Greece and demonstrates the growing importance of
online media even during a period of austerity.
The financial sector appears to be top in terms of advertising expenditure with
investments reaching 12.7 million Euro (20% share of the total expenditure), followed by
the telecommunications sector (10.1 million Euro investment, representing a 16.2%
share) and the commercial goods sector (8.4 million Euro investment, representing a
13.6% share). In the top five sectors one can find the retail sector (5.8 million Euro
262
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
investments with a 9.4% share) and the entertainment sector (5.3 million Euro
investments with an 8.6% share).
13.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
Cable TV and IPTV (broadband TV) are virtually non-existent in Greece. Whereas cable
network operators are yet to be launched, satellite TV has found a market niche with the
launch of NOVA, a digital satellite network operator, launched in December 1999 by
Multichoice Hellas. NOVA offers its subscribers a wide range of international and domestic
programmes (including news, sports, movies, music, children's programmes and general
entertainment channels). The platform also carries the majority of popular Greek
terrestrial TV channels along with a number of Greek terrestrial radio stations. In 2008,
Greek telecommunications company Forthnet acquired Netmed, which is the parent
company of NOVA Greece. NOVA is estimated to have about 450,000 subscribers, the
majority of whom have signed up to watch ‘premium content’ as NOVA has acquired the
exclusive rights to broadcast, among others, the domestic football league matches and
blockbuster movies.
13.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
In terms of advertising market shares involving all media in Greece, the media attracting
most of the advertising expenditure are magazines and television. However, according to
Table 71 the magazine sector dropped a significant share (22.26%) during 2010-2011,
whereas in the same period the medium of television lost a moderate 2.89% share.
Meanwhile, the radio sector dropped almost 30% of its share. The newspaper sector also
showed significant losses of over 17%, owing primarily to the ongoing economic crisis
but also to the appearance of the Internet, online media and social networks. As
aforementioned, the amount of investment in online display advertising in Greece is
much smaller compared with other European countries.
Table 71 GR: Total Advertising Expenditure (2010-2011) (in EURO)
MEDIUM
JAN 2010-DEC
2010
SHARES
(%)
JAN 2011-DEC
2011
SHARES
(%)
CHANGE
(%)
Television
583,161.818
30.9
566,303.741
35.53
- 2.89
Magazines
746,009.155
39.52
579,919.160
36.38
- 22.26
Newspapers
434,131.644
23.0
359,907.549
22.58
- 17.1
Radio
124,237.490
6.58
87,815.214
5.51
- 29.32
TOTAL
1,887,540.106
100.0
1,593,945.665
100.0
- 15.55
Source:
Author
analysis;
Athens
(http://www.eihea.gr/default_en.htm)
Daily
263
Newspaper
Publishers
Association
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
13.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The Greek print media sector is largely self-regulated - as in most other European
countries – on the basis of a wide range of codes of ethics, alongside provisions of
general civil and criminal statutory law. The sector is dominated by a handful of powerful
publication companies which have expanded to the broadcasting field, thereby raising
levels of media market concentration. The broadcasting sector is characterized by a
saturated private radio and TV market, a weak state broadcaster, and it is highly
politicized. The analogue terrestrial television landscape is still unregulated and any
attempt to ‘bring order’ in the chaotic analogue UHF frequencies faces resistance from
various interests – commercial channels, opposition political parties, etc. Successive
governments have been indecisive in regulating adequately the analogue broadcasting
landscape although one can detect a willingness to set up an efficient regulatory regime
to oversee the emerging digital environment (i.e. Law 3592/2007 attempts to deal with
the regulation of digital media as well as chronic matters such as media concentration).
However, Greece lacks truly independent regulatory bodies, especially in the
broadcasting industry, in spite of some positive recent steps towards strengthening the
political and financial independence of the main broadcasting regulatory body NCRTV. It
is in this context that one can understand why the power of the media has increased
considerably, but not the power of journalists and of course not the public broadcaster.
Having said this, the Greek broadcasting industry has been surprisingly resilient and
adaptable to changes, particularly given that it only emerged out of a dictatorship some
thirty-seven years ago.
Greece is lagging behind most other European countries when it comes to new media
technologies, such as the Internet and digital television. While there is no digital or
analogue cable TV service in Greece, digital satellite broadcasting has been developed to
a certain extent, though the main pay-TV operator NOVA has monopolised the market.
Digital terrestrial television seems to be the next priority of the country due in part to the
recommendation of the EU to its Member-States to switch-over from analogue to digital
by 2012. Law 3592/2007 deals with the issue of digital TV and makes a clear distinction
between platform, or multiplex operator and content provider. However, meeting the
2012 target date for analogue switch-off is not a priority for the Greek government,
given the ongoing economic crisis. In effect, it seems likely the digital switch-over to
occur at a later date, sometime between 2012 and 2015.
As far as the Internet is concerned and in the light of the absence of specific legislation to
regulate content on the Internet and in blogs, Greek courts have been at a disagreement
as to whether existing provisions against defamation, insult or libel in the press and the
audiovisual media can be applied. While extending existing legislation to the electronic
versions of magazines and newspapers, as well as to online broadcasting content may be
relatively straightforward, this is not so with regard to self-generated content such as
blogs, which are an interactive medium of communication with content shaped by various
actors like the owner, editor or journalist, or an ordinary citizen. Is it right to extend to
blogs the large sums of indemnification that are granted in cases of insult or libel in the
press? Some put forward the view that self-generated content should be regulated and
that offence or insult involved in blogs is the responsibility of the blogger, whilst some
others argue that freedom of expression should be guaranteed on the Internet and that
in cases an offence occurs it should be subject to general rules for insult against one’s
personality, which are contained in general statutory rules. Prior to the 1980s in Greece,
political reporting emanated mainly from the government via its spokesperson, who
briefed journalists. While this continues today, the Internet has contributed greatly to
multiplying and decentralising the sources of information, and speeded up their
264
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
dissemination, but without necessarily enhancing their credibility. A number of interviews
carried out in the context of a recent study 48 concluded that the vast majority of
‘journalistic’ blogs exist to disseminate any kind of real, but more often false or distorted
information, leading to the proliferation of insulting and appalling texts against
individuals, and to a kind of journalistic product that is unreliable and of bad quality.
Domestic legislation contains a number of provisions devised to promote content
diversity in broadcasting. For a start, diversification and plurality of media content was
achieved in the late 1980s, at the time of the liberalisation of broadcasting market. Prior
to that, broadcasting content was largely uniform and centralised as the monopoly
operator ERT delivered homogenised news bulletins and current affairs programming.
The entry of commercial broadcasters allowed the representation of more political views
(not merely the views of the ruling party), thus enhancing political diversity and cultural
pluralism. The arrival of commercial broadcasters called for the introduction of contentrelated rules to place limits, for example, as far as advertising is concerned, and protect
editorial independence from sponsorship pressures.
Technological innovations and especially the advent of the Internet and digital media
have changed the way information and other types of media content are produced and
delivered. The Greek state, however, still lags behind in exploring the opportunities that
the new media opens up for freedom of expression and information. At the same time,
policy-makers have been reluctant to explore ways to regulate new applications and
media services that do not strictly fall into the traditional regulatory systems for the
press and broadcasting. Despite the trend toward technological convergence, the
telecommunications and the broadcasting sectors are still regarded as separate sectors,
and no systematic efforts are deployed to coordinate in an effective manner the activities
of the two independent authorities in charge of them: the NTPC and the NCRTV,
respectively. Given the current financial crisis facing the country it would make sense to
reduce public spending by merging the NCRTV with the NTPC, but such a proposal has
been met with scepticism by the president of the NCRTV primarily on the grounds that
the merger would be unconstitutional 49.
To sum up, technological advances, media market liberalisation and political shifts
brought about a proliferation of actors, norms and institutions beyond the state. Yet,
media regulation has remained highly centralised in the hands of the state, and of the
government of the day in particular. The government-centric model of media regulation
was and it is still influenced by powerful economic and business interests and media
entrepreneurs exerting pressure over policy issues. Their interests are typically
unaccountable and unchecked due to the absence both of a strong and independent
professional journalism and of civil society institutions. As an EU member-state Greece
has an obligation to impose rules guaranteeing fair competition, but more often than not
EU membership has not managed to counter the distinctive economic, political and media
structures and practices of dependence and favouritism that have distorted the media
market. The current financial crisis has further exposed the weakness of a defective
media system as many print publications and some TV channels went bankrupt and it is
likely to have a negative impact on media independence and their ability to create an
informed public sphere. The viability of media outlets will largely depend on their ability
to pursue high editorial standards and avoid the tendency toward populism.
48
49
Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy promote media freedom
and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
(ELIAMEP).
see Iosifidis, 2011; Psychogiopoulou, E., D. Anagnostou, and A. Kandyla (2011) ‘Does media policy
promote media freedom and independence? The case of Greece’ Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European
and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
265
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Recommendations
 The government should pursue further liberalisation of the media market in order
to promoted greater diversity and pluralism in the news, information and current
affairs accessible to the public.
 The regulatory framework should prohibit concentration of media ownership,
including cross-media concentration especially between the powerful press interests
and broadcasting and/or internet firms. This can be achieved through the
proliferation and upgrading of the power of politically and financially independent
regulatory agencies, which can bring abound a new culture of policymaking
encompassing democratic, pluralistic functions that the media should perform.
 The undue influence of media owners and business interests can also be addressed
through the establishment of a strong and independent professional journalism, as
well as the strengthening of civil society pressures.
 It is essential to reform ERT in order to become a public service broadcaster that
would serve the public interest through the provision of quality, accurate and
impartial news coverage and reporting. This can be done by ensuring the financial
and editorial independence of ERT. In the midst of a difficult economic climate, the
viability of the public news medium will largely depend on its ability to promote
high standards of journalism and prioritise quality information to sensational and
populist reporting.
 There should be further investment in new media technologies like the Internet and
digital television which, alongside the progressive technological convergence, will
contribute to the proliferation of players, norms and institutions beyond the state.
 Greece should take advantage of its membership in the EU and the obligations
imposed by European authorities in order to counter and shift the distinctive
political economy structures and the informal practices of dependence and
favouritism that have traditionally distorted the communications sector. This can be
achieved by ensuring implementation of EU rules and norms that defend media
impartiality and independence against state or powerful commercial interests that
seek to undermine these.
266
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
14.
HUNGARY
14.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
Since the study of 2004 there have been extensive changes in the regulatory framework
of Hungary. At the beginning of this year (2012) a new Fundamental Law has entered
into force. The media segment is also regulated by new laws dated from 2010, having
come into force and been amended in 2011.
14.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
At the constitutional level the basic norms of freedom of expression and freedom of the
media are defined by Article IX of the Fundamental law 1 as follows:
„(1) Everyone shall have the right to freely express their opinion.
(2) Hungary shall recognise and protect the freedom and pluralism of the press, and
ensure the conditions for freedom of information necessary for the formation of
democratic public opinion.
(3) The detailed rules relating to the freedom of the press and to the organ supervising
media services, press products and the infocommunications market shall be laid
down in a cardinal Act.” 2
Within the context of the Fundamental law “cardinal acts” means those acts that have to
be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the Parliament.
The laws directly governing the media are
 Act CIV of 2010 on the Freedom of the Press and the Fundamental Rules of Media
Content (“MC”); 3
 Act CLXXXV of 2010 on Media Services and Mass Media (“MM”). 4
MC, often dubbed as “Media Constitution”, defines the basic rules of media content, while
MM provides the detailed rules of media regulation.
In December 2011 the two acts have been subject of a decision of the Constitutional
Court (decision 165/2011. (XII.20.) AB). As a consequence of this decision the
Parliament is currently in the process of the adoption of an act 5 amending MC, MM and
various connected laws. The amendment will lift a number of obligations originally
imposed on print and online media, will introduce detailed rules for protecting journalistic
sources, and will re-regulate access to data by the media authority in its procedures. 6
1
2
3
4
5
6
http://hunmedialaw.org/dokumentum/152/Smtv_110803_EN_final.pdf.
The source of translations of the legal texts quoted in this paper is the hunmedialaw.org website.
http://hunmedialaw.org/dokumentum/152/Smtv_110803_EN_final.pdf.
http://hunmedialaw.org/dokumentum/153/Mttv_110803_EN_final.pdf.
Bill T/7022. “on amending certain acts related to media services and press products”.
A summary of the decision: Standards Media Monitor (Mérték Médiaelemző Műhely): Ruling No. 165/2011.
(XII. 20.) AB of the Constitutional Court – Summary, is available at:
http://mertek.eu/en/article/ruling-no-1652011-xii-20-ab-of-the-constitutional-court-summary.
267
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
As regards to specific safeguards and rights for the media at the constitutional level the
long-standing and consequently-followed practice of the Constitutional Court is to be
recalled. According to the court freedom of opinion is directly linked to the existence of
the democratic public opinion. As it is constantly held by the court 7 the role of the state
cannot be limited to non-interfering in this respect, instead, it is the responsibility of the
state to promote and maintain the “institution” of the democratic public opinion.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
Beyond the constitutional provision that grants freedom of expression to individuals
(Article IX. (1) quoted above), Article VI. (1) and (2) of the Fundamental Law also
provide special constitutional protection for accession to and dissemination of data of
public interest:
“(2) Every person shall have the right to the protection of his or her personal data, and
to access and disseminate data of public interest.
(3) The exercise of the right to the protection of personal data and the access to data of
public interest shall be supervised by an independent authority.”
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
As regards constitutional safeguards concerning regulatory authorities reference has to
be made to Article IX (3) of the Fundamental Law as quoted above.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
In the Hungarian law the term “universal service” is used generally within the meaning of
Directive Directive 2002/22/EC (Universal Service Directive). The constitutional
requirements related to public service media are developed by the Constitutional Court
from the “institution” of the democratic public opinion and the constitutional obligation of
the state to maintain and promote it.
14.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The legal possibilities of entering into the media market are defined by the MC. According
to its relevant provisions
 “The Act may set official registration as a precondition for the commencement or
pursuit of media services and the publication of press products. The conditions set
for registration may not restrict the freedom of the press.” 8
 “When limited state-owned resources are used by the media service provider,
successful participation in a tender procedure announced and conducted by the
Media Authority may also be set as a condition for the commencement of the media
service.” 9
7
8
9
See inter alia decision 30/1992. (V.26.) AB of the Constitutional Court.
MC 5. § (1).
MC 5. § (2).
268
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
In accordance with these MM defines the rules of procedures for
 tendering the broadcasting possibilities that are given via analogue terrestrial
frequencies 10, and
 registration of radios and televisions operating via other channels (digital
terrestrial, cable, satellite, etc ...) 11
 registration of non-linear audiovisual media services 12
 registration of printed and online press products under the scope of the acts 13.
Printed and online press products can be published simultaneous with the initiating of
registration. According to the Media Law, the media authority shall withdraw the
registration if a specified conflict of interests exists vis-à-vis the notifier, or the name of
the notified press product is identical with, or is confusingly similar to, the name of a
press product registered earlier with valid records at the time said application was
submitted. The press product shall be deleted from the register in the previous cases, in
case of the requesting of the deletion, in case of interruption of publication for over 5
years, or if a final decision by the court has decreed cessation of a trade mark
infringement perpetrated through the title of the press product and barred the infringer
from further trade mark infringement. The prospect of deletion by the authority as a
sanction against the publisher is not holded out. If the publisher or founder of a press
product fails to comply with its obligations related to registration, the media authority
may impose a fine of up to one million forints.
The registration rules regarding the non-linear media services are more or less the same
as the previous rules, but the rules on the registration of linear media services are more
detailed and stricter. The main difference is the content of the notification and the
possibility of the deletion of the service provider from the register as a sanction in the
case of repeated and serious violation of the law.
The regulation of the tendering for broadcasting possibilities is imperfect and
controversial at many points. One of the most crucial points of this regulation is that the
rules on tender procedures for broadcasting frequencies allow the Media Council to
prolong the closing of bids for a given media service right (frequency) as long as there is
a bidder who is to the authority's liking. In fact, the authority may terminate the
tendering process at any time if “by its own consideration, the media policy aspects […]
cannot be ensured by completing the tender procedure”. There are other tender rules as
well that allow the authority to arbitrarily apply the laws, such as by failure to regulate
the evaluation criteria, and may lead to complete legal uncertainty, as well as ambiguous
and unpredictable procedure with regards to the bidders.
Tender decisions can be contested before the court (Regional Court of Budapest). The
court has to overview the decision within 30 days, and against its decision no appeal is
permissible. 14
The Media Council and media providers winning a bid enter into a so-called official
administrative contract which provides for a significant part of the terms and conditions
10
11
12
13
14
MM.
MM 42.
MM 45.
MM 46.
MM 62.
§.
§.
§.
§ (5)-(6)
269
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
under which the provider will operate. The contract reveals how much the provider is to
pay the media authority, sets forth commitments regarding programming structure and
content, stipulates sanctions, and may even impose obligations for a digital switchover
further down the line. Although these details have a fundamental bearing on the entire
media system in Hungary, they are not public at the present time.
In the tender procedures, the media service provision fee is a constant and important
criterion. This fee is to pay by all media service providers, irrespective of the distribution
technology. In case of providers on cable, satellite, IPTV or DVB-T platforms, the amount
of the fee is determined by a decision of the media authority. Recently, the Media Council
has revised the contracts of the nationwide commercial television stations in light of the
new Media Act, and did the same with the contracts of the nationwide radio stations.
Very likely, this revision was more than just a formality and effected material and
substantive parts of the contracts, particularly as regards the rate of the media provision
fee. The Media Council amended the contracts not only in complete secrecy but even
disregarding the explanation requirements stipulated by procedural rules. The contract
itself is not public, and the officially posted explaination of the resolution declaring its
transformation into an administrative contract is evasive. 15
The conclusions of the tender practise can be summarized as follows.
 In the completed process of the Media Authority, a few “preferred” applicants were
awarded nearly half of the announced frequencies.
 Although local content was a pre-eminent evaluation criterion during the evaluation
process, certain decisions by the Media Council overruled the previously
represented media policy considerations. The purity of the tendering process, the
equality of treatment and of competitive conditions are threatened when a contract
is amended within a short period and, as a result, the commitment that initially
made it a winning tender can no longer be fulfilled.
 The three applicants who were successful in the processes endeavour national
coverage and place life of faith in the center of their broadcast; the underlying
media political aspects were omitted from the justification of the Media Council's
decisions.
 The situation has worsened for those participants who endeavour national coverage
and operate on the basis of former market conditions. They were unable to win
tenders where there was a competition. There was only one music radio (Rádió1)
winning two tenders, but only on those frequencies where it was the only bidder.
The marginalization of former market participants also means less economical
danger from the major national radio stations (Class Fm, Neo Fm), and other
broadcasters on the radio market with different profiles and ever-expanding
coverage areas become the leading participants.
 Due to deficiencies in the justification of decisions and, primarily, deficiencies in the
publicity of decisions made during such processes, the requirement of transparent
and controllable decision-making was not fully satisfied.
15
Mérték Médielemző Műhely (Standards Media Monitor): Secrets and Lies: The Contracts of National Media
Providers, http://mertek.eu/en/article/secrets-and-lies-the-contracts-of-national-media-providers.
270
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 The voting on the final results was unanimous in each case, which indicates that
the Media Council has established those media political objectives that were
realized in the decisions as a uniform approach. 16
MM provides the detailed rules on the regulatory authority for the media. The National
Media and Telecommunications Authority 17 (NMHH) is a “convergent” authority
responsible for administering both the segments of telecommunications and media. Tasks
related to media regulation are performed by the Media Council 18, a collective body with
relative autonomy within the organisation of the authority. In performing their duties,
members of the Media Council cannot take orders from anyone 19; they cannot be
recalled 20; and they have to comply with strict incompatibility rules 21. The elected
members of the Media Council are expected to have no ties, either formal or informal,
with any political party or with the government 22.
It is also to note that the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights (the “ombudsman”) has
recently submitted a motion 23 to the Constitutional Court regarding the regulation
governing the election of the president of the Media Council. In his motion the
commissioner suggests the court to annihilate these rules as they lack proper legal
clarity. The Parliament remedied_ these objections of the Commissioner by modifying the
act in June 2012; the result of this modification is that the present chairman and
members of the Media Council will hold their position until the new Parliament can elect a
new chairman and new members with a two-third majority.
The remit of the public service media is summarized by the MC stating that “Public media
service is operated in Hungary in order to preserve and strengthen national and
European identity, foster and preserve national, family, ethnic and religious communities,
and promote and enrich Hungarian language and culture and minority languages and
culture and meet the needs of citizens for information and culture.” 24
Other provision regarding the remit of the public service media are also foreseen in the
Public Service Code. The content of this code is defined by MM as follows:
„The Code can, among other things, regulate the following:
a) the means and method of attaining the statutory objectives of public media service,
b) the basic principles of independence from political parties and political organisations,
c) the principles regarding the presentation of the diversity, objectivity and balanced
nature of news and timely political programmes, presentation of disputed matters and
the diversity of opinions and views, (...)
f) the principles of presenting cultural, scientific, ideological and religious diversity,
g) the principles of performing tasks with regard to the protection of minors,
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
Furher information: Mérték Médielemző Műhely (Standards Media Monitor): The Media Council's Tender
Procedures for Broadcasting Frequencies - Executive Summary, http://mertek.eu/en/reports/the-mediacouncils-tender-procedures-for-broadcasting-frequencies-executive-summary.
http://www.nmhh.hu/inex.php?lang=en.
http://www.mediatanacs.hu/english.php.
MM 123. § (2).
MM 129. § (1).
MM 118. § (1); 127. § (1).
MM 118. § (3); 127. § (1).
Motion AJB-3299/2012.
MC 11.§.
271
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
h) the principles relating to ethical norms governing the broadcasting of commercial
communications, advertising activities and the sponsorship of programmes, (...)
j) the principles relating to the extent and guarantees of the autonomy and responsibility
of production companies employed by the public media service provider, and to the
guarantees of their participation in the definition of the principles of the production
and editing of programmes.
The Code of Public Service was finalised in the summer of 2011, but it is a handful of
declarations, failing to offer tangible guidance as to the operation of public service. One
of the cardinal flaws of the new law is its omission to expressly provide for a public
service mandate.
As regards registration of press products it is to note that the scope of the acts covers
exclusively content services that are provided as commercial services 25. As a
consequence, private blogs without any economic purpose, for example, are not subjects
of, inter alia, registration on the basis of the acts. But the definitions in the act are not
clear enough to delineate unambiguously the scope of the law.
The rules of registration are designed in a way to make decisions automatic. If the
applicant complies with the formal criteria defined by the MM its registration is
compulsory. The NMHH is not in the position to exercise any discretion in this regard.
In the case of printed and online press products the authority cannot refuse registration
even if their application is incomplete 26.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
Media ownership rules are generally based on the actual ratings of media outlets.
According to MM “linear audiovisual media service providers with an average annual
audience share of at least thirty-five percent, linear radio media service providers, and
media service providers having a joint average annual audience share of at least forty
percent on the linear audiovisual and linear radio markets, any owners of the media
service provider and any person or undertaking having a qualifying holding in the media
service provider’s owner
a)
may not launch new media services, may not acquire shares in undertakings
providing media services, and
b)
shall take measures in order to increase the diversity of the media market by
modifying the programme flow structure of its media services, by increasing the
proportion of Hungarian works and programmes prepared by independent production
companies, or in any other way.” 27
Considering the actual market circumstances, the 35 percent limit can not be reached by
any market actors. The new media ownership rules ensure wider latitude to the media
enterprises, but the obligations applicable in case of reaching the legal ownership
restrictions are not clear. The affected media service provider shall take measures in
order to increase the diversity of the media market, but the act gives just some
examples to this obligation, and in case of doubt, it is the media service provider’s
responsibility to prove that the measures are able to strengthen the diversity.
25
26
27
MC 1. § 1., MM 203. § 40.
MM 46. § (4) – (5).
MM 68. § (1).
272
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The complete lack of rules restricting the interweaving of various media types (crossownership) threatens fulfilling of the requirement of diversified information in the long
run. The media market trends confirm the risk that a given enterprise may be able to
present its own views via various media types – television, radio, newspapers and online
services. This poses a serious constitutional risk particularly with regards to the domestic
media market trends.
Beyond these, MM also defines the category of “media service providers with significant
influence” as “linear audiovisual media service providers and linear radio media service
providers with an average annual audience share of at least fifteen percent (…) provided
that the average annual audience share of at least one of their media service reaches
three percent” 28. Currently there are two television and two radio broadcasters of
significant influence, the national channels operating on analogue terrestrial frequencies.
Broadcasters of significant influence have to broadcast a news programme or general
information programme, and to ensure in the course of all of its media services
transmitted by digital media service distribution, that at least one quarter of the
cinematographic works and film series originally produced in a language other than
Hungarian, shall be available in their original language, with Hungarian subtitles.
Independently of these specific qualifications and the attached obligations general rules
of competition law are also applicable. But the new Media Act entitled the Media Council
to intervene in the procedure of the competition authority in the cases of concentration
regarding the media market. 29 According to the act, the Hungarian Competition Authority
shall obtain the position statement of the Media Council for the approval of concentration
of enterprises, which enterprises bear editorial responsibility and the primary objective of
which is to distribute media content to the general public via an electronic
communications network or a printed press product. The position statement of the Media
Council binds the Hungarian Competition Authority. This rule had to apply also to ongoing
procedures. 30 It made possible to prevent the merger between Ringier and Axel-Springer
which would have had the effect to weaken the market position of the biggest opposition
newpaper. The decision of the Media Council was not established; it is not suitable to
give directions to prospective concentrations.
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
In 2011 the substantial restructuring of the Hungarian public service media took place.
The definitive element of the system of the Hungarian public service media is the Media
Service Support and Asset Management Fund 31 (MTVA). The MTVA secures the
production capacities and handles the assets of the four public service media entities:
 the Hungarian Television Non-profit Co. Ltd.
 the Hungarian Radio Non-profit Co. Ltd.
 the Duna Television Non-profit Co. Ltd. and
 the MTI Non-profit Co. Ltd., the national news agency.
 the MTVA, as a fund, is managed by the Media Council.
28
29
30
31
MM 69. § (1).
MM 171. §.
MM 216. § (5).
http://www.mtva.hu/hu/english.
273
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Media content available through public service media consists of these offers:
 One national broadcasting TV channel (M1) with terrestrial transmission, three
satellite TV channels (M2, Duna TV, Duna World);
 Seven radio stations (three national FM channels: one talk radio (Kossuth Rádió),
one music radio (Petőfi Rádió), one classical music radio (Bartók Rádió), one
national middle wave channel with programmes for ethnical minorities, one middle
wave regional channel with network transmission, two online radio stations (one life
broadcast from the parliament, one with folk music content)).
There is a Board of Public Service Curators (Trustees), which exercises ownership rights,
and there is a Public Service Body destined to exercise social control over the operation.
Besides the ownership rights the Board of Trustees has the following major tasks and
responsibilities related to public service media (Article 90.):
“(1) The Board of Trustees:
a)
monitors whether the objectives of the public media service are fulfilled through the
activities of the public media service providers,
b)
if in its opinion the behaviour of a public media service provider seriously violates or
threatens the attainment of public media service objectives, then it may initiate the
Media Council’s proceedings,
c)
safeguards the independence of the public media service provider,
d)
establishes and amends the Statutes of public media service providers,
e)
elects the Director Generals of the public media service providers, and determines
the terms and conditions of their employment contract and remuneration,”
The Board of Public Services has the following tasks (Article 97.):
“(7) The Board of Public Services constantly monitors how public service orientation is
manifested, and exercises control in accordance with Paragraphs (8)-(13) over the
public media service providers in relation to the enforcement of the provisions of
this Act.
(8)
Once every year, by 28 February of the year following the current calendar year,
the Director Generals of the public media service providers prepare a report on
whether the media service provider under their management, in their own
assessment, has fulfilled the requirements outlined in this Act regarding the
objectives and basic principles of public media service.”
Although these organisations are operational and functional, until today they have not
left any footprint in the publicity, and in the design of the public media content.
The several cases of counterfeit reporting in 2011, including the Cohn-Bendit affair and
the Lomnici Affair, failed to provoke the Media Council, the Board, and the Body to speak
out in any meaningful way. In the Lomnici case, the managing directors of the Fund and
MTI, the national news agency, took measures in the capacity of employers, although it
never came to light precisely along what procedural lines the disciplinary action was
taken and based on what official explanation. Certain individuals were named and held
274
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
accountable, but nothing that happened really taught us anything about what public
service should consist of and how it should operate. In other words, these cases did not
offer any legally useful lesson as to the nature of public service in the media. On the level
of day-to-day operation, the currently effective provisions fail to lay down the
prerequisites of public service (an a priori omission) and fail to set forth the procedures
of holding violators accountable (an a posteriori oversight).
Neither does the new MM formulate a coherent order of responsibilities for compliance
with public service requirements. The most characteristic attributes of the new system
are the absence of transparency and regulating the field on an “as-it-were” basis. It
seems that all necessary actors are present. In reality, however, they are not the crucial
players. The key decisions are taken by the MTVA and the Media Council and its
president. In the present scheme of things, neither the Board nor the Body has properly
regulated relations with the Fund, despite the fact that the Fund has inherited the
relevant public service assets, manufacturing capacities, and the professional staff.
The most frequently-debated element of this restructuring was the role of MTI as the
central news agency for the entire public service media. Opponents of this structure refer
to recent cases of editorial behaviour on behalf of MTI and MTVA that induced criticism.
On the other hand, defenders of this solution emphasise the aspect of cost efficiency.
There is no pertinent data available which would support an assessment on the cost
efficiency of the Hungarian public service media. It is fact, however, that the official state
budget allocated to the PBS has increased in 2012 in comparison with the previous years.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The Media Council, which has significant and material control over the entire media
selection and the programmes of each broadcaster through the distribution of
broadcasting rights and monitoring programme requirements, was created on the basis
of nomination and selection rules that allowed for the involvement of nominees
exclusively from the larger governing party. As a result, the government and/or the
parliamentary majority gains sole influence over the control of the media system while
making it impossible for third parties to oversee the media authority's operations.
Completely excluding the opposition from the media authority's operations does not
exclusively and primarily mean exclusion from decision-making, but it may also make it
impossible to monitor the preparation and justification of decisions.
The chairman of the Media Council is nominated by the prime minister, the members of
the Council are nominated by an ad hoc committee of the Parliament, in that the
members have a number of votes corresponding to the headcount of the parliamentary
faction they were appointed by. In the first voting round, the nominating is bound to a
soild vote, but in the second round the members can be nominated by a two-third
majority. These rules resulted in the exclusivity of the candidates of the Fidesz.
The chairman of the NMHH is the chairman of the Media Council, and he has a scope of
authority broad enough to enable him/her to effectively shape the most important
decisions relevant to the media system, and she/he is the only decision-maker regarding
the telecommunication issues.
The competences of the Media Council cover i.a. the tendering of radio frequencies, the
registration of the media service providers and the press organisations, the control and
275
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
sanctioning of all media contents, the subsidies to the media service providers 32, the
nomination of the chairman and a member of the Board of the Public Broadcasting
Foundation, the nomination of the CEO of PBS providers, and the appointment of the
chairman of the Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund that is the trustee of
the PBS providers.
The registries of the services mentioned above in this chapter are kept by the NMHH.
The Media Council is entitled to nominate candidates for the board of the Public Service
Foundation for the positions of the director generals of the public service media
providers. The Media Council is obliged to nominate two candidates for each position. The
director generals are elected by the Board of Trustees of the Public Service Foundation. 33
The informal power of the Media Council and its president in the newly established
structure is secured through the appointment and election process of the leaders at PBS
organs. Neither the Council, nor the Board Trustees, nor the Board of Public Service has
so far practiced its rights established by MM for the transparent and formal accountability
of content control.
In some cases the Media Council declared to reject any responsibility for the fulfilment of
the requirements of PBS. Despite of such declarations the MM establishes a named task
as follows (Article 182 bm):
“Acting in its regulatory powers, the Media Council, in accordance with Article 132,
(b) shall perform regulatory supervision regarding the following statutory provisions
herein defined:
(bm) rules on the performance of tasks in public media service;”
The latest public correspondence in the subject took place in April 2012.
The Works Council of the MTI addressed an open letter, signed by the majority of the
news agency’s employees, to the president of the Media Council, demanding that the
Fund restore the agency’s professional and organizational independence. The letter was
motivated by the recognition of the fact that the merger of the public service media and
the MTI, along with the attendant problems of employment law and financing, hinder the
work of the agency.
A few days later, the president of the Media Council sent a letter in reply, explaining that
neither the National Media and Infocommunications Authority nor its Media Council
possessed any competence regarding the operation of MTI Nonprofit Zrt.
In their reports, all the international organizations raise criticism over the alleged
independence of public service media. The procedure of nominating and appointing
senior management official to public service media — a procedure crucially overseen by
the President of the Media Council — ran counter to international standards because it
failed to ensure freedom from undue political influence. For much the same reason,
international criticism was strong over the move whereby the President of the Media
Council became, indirectly through the Media Support and Asset Management Fund, the
employer of practically every single journalist working in public service media. As for the
regulation of the public service system, different international reports also conclude that
the current scheme of control over the institutions fails to guarantee political
32
33
About the problems of this practise see Support and Policy: The Subsidization of Community Radio
Stations, http://mertek.eu/en/article/support-and-policy-the-subsidization-of-community-radio-stations.
MM 102. §.
276
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
independence, nor does the regulation of financing ensure the independence of day-today operations.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
The basic rules and safeguards of journalistic activities are defined by the MC. On the one
hand, it provides for the protection of human dignity 34 and human rights 35, the
constitutional order 36, minors 37, and consumers 38 without giving real definitions as to
what these legal terms mean in everyday journalistic practice. For the linear media
services it provides for a number of similarly vaguely defined terms such as the
obligation of diverse, comprehensive, factual, up-to-date, objective and balanced
coverage. 39 It is important to note that the legislation introduces a wide variety of
sanctions and investigative powers in the hands of the Media Authority against media
outlets disregarding these obligations.
On the other hand, it grants certain privileges for journalists, by providing
protection against interference of owners of media outlets to editorial work 40
granting immunity for journalists for minor offences committed in the course
investigative work 41. These privileges, however, remain inadequately determined
not incorportated in relevant other legislations.
explicit
and by
of their
and are
MC also contains rules of protecting sources of journalists’ information 42. These rules
have been subjects of the recent decision of the Constitutional Court.
The single most critical legislative issue in the above-mentioned order of the
Constitutional Court is whether the supervision of the printed and online press by the
media authority will be allowed to stand. Although instating control over the media by a
media authority must be seen as the most regressive step in the cause of the free press,
the Constitutional Court did not rule out the possibility of such control but merely placed
restrictions upon it. Pursuant to the ruling, the media authority retains its power —
theoretically at least — to take action against hate and discriminative speech posted on
online journals or news portals, violations of constitutional law and order, the selfserving, offensive representation of helpless and vulnerable individuals, content deemed
severely harmful for children, and unlawful commercial messages (advertising). No
media authority supervision is allowed regarding posts and publications violating human
dignity, privacy, and human rights in general, nor regarding violations of the obligation to
withdraw such statements. The authority’s options to step in against messages of hate
and discrimination have been scaled back by the Constitutional Court far enough as to
virtually prevent such intervention in the future.
The Constitutional Court ordered to revise the rules of source protection following the
case of a non-profit investigative journalism site, Atlatszo.hu, which challenged the rules.
Acknowledging that atlatszo.hu’s claims were right, the Constitutional Court of Hungary
decided that the protection of journalists’ sources is not sufficiently guaranteed by the
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
MC
MC
MC
MC
MC
MC
MC
MC
MC
14. §.
16. §.
16. §.
19. §.
20. §.
13 §
7. §.
8. §.
6. §.
277
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
new, widely criticised 2010 media law. It happened with reference to this law that the
organised crime unit of the Hungarian Police summoned Tamás Bodoky, editor-in-chief of
atlatszo.hu, as witness, after he refused to identify a confidential source.
Bodoky did not identify his source as a witness either, he claimed reporter’s privilege –
police seized a hard disk as evidence at the journalist’s appartment. Atlatszo.hu filed
several legal complaints against the police obligation to identify a journalist’s source and
seizing confidential data, but the Public Prosecution Office – responsible for overseeing
criminal investigations and ensuring that the police comply with the law – stated that
police claim to reveal the sources was justifiable.
In revising the provisions regulating the protection of information sources, the decision of
the Constitutional Court made it indispensable to incorporate substantive and procedural
safeguards, for instance by prohibiting investigative agencies to order a journalist to
reveal his source unless the information sought cannot be obtained in any other manner.
Furthermore, the Court order means that the modifications should enshrine the
journalist’s right to seek remedy against such an investigative resolution prior to
revealing his source. It will be impossible to maintain the precedence of classified
information, such as state secrets, over the interests in keeping sources anonymous. For
this reason, legislators should incorporate the option of deliberating between the
respective benefits of revealing sources and of keeping them unidentified, even when the
information in question is classified, and must again uphold the right to seek remedy in
court. Additionally, an amendment of penal and civil procedures is called for to make it
unequivocally clear that journalists are entitled to protect their sources in all conceivable
procedures.
The forthcoming amendment of MC was to clarify that only courts may oblige journalists
to reveal their sources of information in exceptional cases during criminal procedures.
The amending bill also aimed at introducing safeguards into various procedural laws
strengthening this right of journalists. According to the proposed amendment of MC the
right of journalists to keep their sources confidential would be applicable mutatis
mutandis to their records and documents.
The Hungarian Parliament adopted on 24 May 2012 a more flexible version of the muchcriticised media law, that mainly introduced the requested amendments guaranteeing the
protection of journalists’ sources. According to the new provisions, the media authority
NMHH no longer controls editorial content in print media, but the examination of
audiovisual media content remains under its attributions. Journalists can no longer be
forced by the NMHH to disclose their sources and breaking of the law, such as breach of
privacy, can only be heard in court.
Still not included in the amendments is the aspect regarding the political independence of
the media regulatory authority, its president being further appointed by the prime
minister personally.
- Specific positive content obligations
Public service media are subjects of content obligations defined by the Public Service
Code regarding: the criteria for supporting and sustaining the mother tongue culture, the
principles of the rules of presenting the culture and life of national and ethnic minorities
living in Hungary, the principles of communicating public service announcements, the
principles of keeping members of the Hungarian nation living abroad adequately
informed, and also of providing adequate information about them, the principles of
278
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
formulating basic ethical rules, other than those in this Act, applying to staff members,
with special regard to those employed in relation to news and political programmes.” 43
The Code has established only fragments of professional, ethical rules. Apart from the
general declarations the Code does not provide further guidelines on the creation of the
content. Is generally understood, that in the lack of professional standard the operation
of the public service media is running in a black box.
In the commercial sector media service providers with significant market power are
subject to special content obligations (they are obliged to provide news services and to
make a proportion of their content available with subtitles or sign language for persons of
impaired hearing).
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
MTVA is also the source of funding public service programme items, community media,
films and contemporary music. Funding is provided by the decisions of the Media Council
of the NMHH in tendering procedures.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
According to the relevant provisions of MM:
“(3) During election campaign periods, political advertisements may only be published in
accordance with the provisions of the acts on the election of members of
Parliament, members of the European Parliament, representatives of local and
county governments, mayors and the election of minority self-governments.
Outside of election campaign periods, political advertisements may only be
published in connection with referendums already ordered. The media service
provider shall not be responsible for the content of the political advertisement, if
the request for the publication of the political advertisement is in compliance with
the provisions of the Act on election procedures, and in such case the media service
provider shall be obliged to publish the advertisement without further
consideration.
(4)
Upon the publication of political advertisements, public service announcements and
public service advertisements, the person or entity ordering the publication shall be
identified unequivocally.” 44
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
As a new legal institution of the media regulatory system the MM established a coregulatory scheme in which the self-regulatory organisations and the Media Council of
the NHMM work together in favour of a more flexible and more effective prosecution of
media rights.
The MM contains also the mechanism of cooperation in detail 45. The self-regulatory
organisations should draw up their codes of conducts, and sign an administrative contract
with the Media Council of the NMHH. According to the authorization which derives from
these documents the organisations can carry out self-management activities among their
43
44
45
MM 96. §.
MM 32 (3)-(4).
MM 190-196.
279
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
members 46. On this basis the co-regulation creates a connection between the authority of
the state and the union of media market actors. .Nevertheless, self-regulatory bodies
operating also as co-regulatories are forums of the first instance in case of public
complaints concerning their members. Complaints come in the second ground before the
authority, for official adjudication, which obliges the members concerned to follow the
self-regulatory forum just in need. Funding for performing the co-regulatory tasks is also
provided to the self-regulatory organisations by the Media Council of the NMHH 47. From
one side the bodies of the new legal institution keep distance both from the state and
from the market to fulfil individually the bridge-function between them, but from the
other side the state provides the funding for completing their tasks and the actors of the
market are the salariats to carry out the tasks. The real loophole is that the rules in case
of conflicts of interest are not layed down.
The other weakness of the new legal institute is that at the time the drafts of the
regulation occured, in Hungary there were only two self-regulatory bodies on this field
carrying out self-management activities among their members according to their
declared professional standards. Voluntary, effective and independent self-regulation
does not have a long tradition, stable basis, it can hardly fulfil the tasks the co-regulation
put on it without the impair of the professional background. The regulation conceals the
prospect for the self- and co-regularories to become the alternative dispute resolution
forum of the Media Council of the NMHH.
At the moment there are four organisations performing self-regulatory tasks within this
system.
These are:
 the Association of Hungarian Content Providers (MTE) 48,
 the Association of Hungarian Electronic Broadcasters,
 the Association for Self-regulating Advertisers (ÖRT) 49, and
 the Association of Hungarian Press Publishers (MLE) 50.
According the latest analyses public complaints do not arise at the associations. The
reason can be the complicated process prior to sending in a complaint or that the
complaint forum function of the assosiations are not part of the common knowledge yet.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The media authority is responsible for applying the rules of MC and MM in this regard too.
Decisions of the NMHH are subjects of judicial control.
It is also the role of the NMHH to supervise the activities of the self-regulatory
organizations, as mentioned above, in accordance with the agreements concluded with
the respective parties.
46
47
48
49
50
MM 191. (1)
MC 190 – 202. §.
http://www.mte.hu/eng_egyesulet.html.
http://www.ort.hu/.
http://www.mle.org.hu/.
280
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Distribution Aspects
Distribution aspects of electronic media are dealt with primarily within the framework of
telecommunications law.
- Access to frequencies
Frequency management is the role of the NMHH. Act LXXIV of 2007 on digital switchover
and on rules of programme distribution provides a comprehensive set of rules for
distributing radio and television programmes. The act defines 31 December 2014 as the
date of digital switch-over (analogue switch-off) of television broadcasting 51. The original
date was 31 December of 2011, but the Parliament modified it several times because of
the deficiencies of public information and the deficiencies of forming the financial aid
system, and because of the market uncertainties. The former telecommunications
authority tendered five nationwide digital television and two nationwide digital radio
frequencies in 2008. The object of the tendering was the operating of the digital
terrestrial platforms. The winner, the Antenna Hungaria owned by Télédiffusion de France
(TDF), is entitled to distribute the digital capacities to the media service providers. Media
service providers on the digital terrestrial platform do not need to take part on specific
tender procedures. They have to register at the Media Council and to agree with the
operator on the conditions of digital transmission. The procedure of the local digital
switch-over is not clarified yet, in spite of the fact that the new media act contains the
applicable procedure rules.
A frequently-cited recent case of controversy related to tendering broadcasting
possibilities via analogue terrestrial frequencies is the case of Klubrádió. 52 This is a
regional radio station presenting mainly news and current affairs. As the broadcasting
contract of the station expired the NMHH launched a tender concerning the frequency it
operates on. Having lost the tender Klubrádió has initiated the judicial review of the
process. The court examining the case has found that the procedure of the NMHH was
not in accordance with the relevant provisions of MM and annulled the decision of the
authority.
The future of Klubradio may well hinge on the outcome of two court reviews. The first
has to do with the tender announced for the 92.9 MHz frequency in Budapest. Although
Klubradio won the tender in April 2010, the Media Council that had formed in the
meantime refused to sign a contract with the station. The other process reviews the
results of the tender for the 95.3 MHz frequency, in which Klubradio finished as a close
second bidder. In both litigations, the court ruled — in the first instance in the first case,
and in a final and non-appealable judgment in the second case — that the Media Council
had violated the law. It clearly follows from these judgments that Klubradio actually won
both tenders.
In the case of the 92.9 MHz frequency, the Media Council sought to justify its refusal to
sign a contract with the station by saying that Klubradio had not been eligible to file a bid
in the first place, because it was airing broadcasts at the time using another frequency in
Budapest. However, the station had made the commitment, obeying the requirement set
forth in the tender announcement, to resign that other frequency if it won. It is true that
certain lawsuits over other radio tenders pending at the time did feature similar
rationalizations about initial eligibility, but these arguments had disappeared by the time
those cases reached final judgment. Furthermore, even if there had been a flaw in
51
52
Act LXXIV of 2007 38. § (1).
Summary of the Case of Klub Radio, http://mertek.eu/en/article/summary-of-the-case-of-klub-radio.
281
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Klubradio’s bid, it would not have affected the winning bid unless another bidder
contested the final result in court. Consequently, entering into contract with the winning
bidder — with Klubradio, in the case of the 92.9 MHz frequency — is not an option but an
obligation and a liability, and at once the only way to uphold the option of the losers to
seek legal redress in their turn.
Ultimately, the court not only declared that the Media Council had acted against the law
by refusing to sign the contract, but in effect produced that contract itself by virtue of
this very judgment. The Media Council, nevertheless, filed an appeal against this firstinstance decision.
In the case of the 95.3 MHz frequency, Klubradio appealed the Media Council’s resolution
after it had lost to a competitor by a few points. In some of its parts, the result of the
tender is bound to objective criteria, in the evaluation of which the Media Council has no
discretion to deliberate, and the number of points can be calculated beyond any dispute.
The other part of the total awarded score, however, comes from the quality assessment
of the proposed programme schedule, where the authority can easily tailor points to suit
its preferences, and ultimately to the end result it would prefer to see. The suspicion that
this is indeed what happened is substantiated by the fact that, in the course of the
lawsuit, the Media Council modified its own explanation originally attached to the
resolution in respect of these very subjective criteria.
Finally, the court annulled the result of the tender citing formal errors, noting that the
winning bid was not affixed by properly authorized signatures. The court then ordered
the Media Council to reevaluate the submitted bids. Since the original evaluation had
relegated Klubradio to the second place, the outcome of this reevaluation could hardly be
other than declaring Klubradio as the winner. The Media Council, however, has not
passed a new resolution in the matter ever since.
After all these, the Parliament intervened in the court procedure in June 2012 by
modifying the Media Act. 53 The final text of the modification – which had more versions
before the passing – contains three risks to Klubradio. There is no process to convert the
contract concluded on the basis of the old media law to a contract appropriate to the new
law. Secondly, the Klubradio cannot get a community license. According to the new law,
community status can be awarded just in a tender that was published by the Media
Council or in a specific process that can be initiated by a radio or television provider that
does not use frequencies; Klubradio not meeting these requirements. In the end, it can
be only concluded that the future of Klubradio depends on the law interpretation of the
court in the 92.9 MHz case.
Evaluation of the tendering practice of NMHH proves the marginalization of former
incumbent radio stations, while the right-wing Lanchid Radio and two religious stations,
Maria Radio and Europa Radio, won several local frequencies. 54
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
MM defines specific rules for securing pluralism on distribution network as follows:
“(1) The number of media services in the providers of which the same undertaking has a
qualifying holding shall not exceed one quarter of the audiovisual media services or
half the radio media services distributed on the given transmission system.
282
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
(2)
The number of media services the providers of which also perform media service
distribution activities or in the providers of which the same media service
distributor undertaking has an ownership stake shall not exceed one quarter of the
audiovisual media services or half the radio media services broadcasted on the
given transmission system.
(3)
The ratios defined under Paragraphs (1)-(2) shall also apply to the programme
package, offered by the media service distributor undertaking to viewers or
listeners, which had the highest number of subscribers at the end of the previous
calendar year in the given transmission system” 55
Beyond specific rules radio and television programme distribution is also subject of the
general rules of competition law.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
The role of the multiplex operators is developed by the act as a “strong” one. In this
model, while complying with a set of “must-carry” obligations, multiplex operators are
free to decide which programmes they distribute.
Detailed “must-carry” and “must-offer” rules for platform operators (most importantly for
cable operators) are defined by the MM 56.
Beneficiary media service providers of the must-carry rules are the public service
broadcasting providers and the community providers. All platform operators have to
distribute 4 PSB channels, 2 local and 3 local or regional community channels. The Media
Authority may define 2 other PSB channels and 1 community channel as subject of the
must-carry rules. The biggest, so-called influential media service distributors have an
obligation to contract in respect of three further community media services. Altogether,
media service distributors have to distribute 14 channels; these obligations are a
significant burden on the platform operators. Furthermore, the criteria of community
services are not clear enough to prevent abuses. The rules made possible to new
channels as community providers to get into the cable packages and demand a large
amount of copyright fee from the operator. The last modification of the Media Act has
reacted on this failure; according to the modification, if the community media service
provider and the platform operator have debates on the distribution conditions, the
media authority will decide this debate in the way that it will define the price of
distribution in 0 HUF.
These prescriptions are completed with some must-offer obligations. 57 A media service
provider with significant influence or a media service provider in which an influential
media service distributor has a qualifying holding shall contract with any media service
distributor in respect of all its linear media services in order to be able to transmit the
media services within the distributor’s programme packages. The obliged media service
provider may not make the conclusion of an agreement pertaining to any of its media
services, or the determination of the material contents of this agreement, conditional
upon the entering into another agreement in respect of its other media services which
are not essential for the distribution of the given media service, or upon the purchase or
53
54
55
56
57
On Lex Klub Radio: The legislative machinery will not rest …, http://mertek.eu/en/article/on-lex-klubradio-the-legislative-machinery-will-not-rest.
http://mertek.eu/sites/default/files/reports/report_on_tender_procedures.pdf.
MM 72. § (1) – (3).
MM 73 - 81. §.
MM 78. §
283
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
use of other services or products. The obliged media service provider and media service
distributor shall formulate the agreement and the contractual terms and conditions
thereof – in particular, but not solely the fee – in line with the principle of equal
treatment, by setting an affordable price level and having regard to the principles of
technological neutrality and economies of scale.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The supervision of the implementation of the rules above by operators is the role of the
NMHH. The Media Council is entitled to decide the debates on must-carry or must-offer
rules between media service providers and platform operators.
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
The registry of media service providers, as described in this paper under the heading
“market entry” is public. This is complemented by the publicity of the records of the
courts of registration.
- Accountability of public service media
In this regard reference has to be made to the director generals’ obligation to prepare a
report on „whether the media service provider under their management, according to
their own assessment, has fulfilled the requirements outlined in [MM] regarding the
objectives and basic principles of public media service.” 58 If the Board of Public Services,
after having personally interviewed the CEO, decides to reject the report, the Board of
Public Services may consider submitting a proposal to the Board of Trustees for the
termination of the CEO’s employment relationship.
During the course of May all management reports have been accepted by the Board of
Public Services.
A major gap of the Hungarian media legislation is that the MM does not make a clear
description on the public service mandate. In this context, the budget to render the
public service mission is consequently missed. The current financing method of the PSB
most probably does not fulfil the requirements of the EU Commission on the State aid to
PSB.
Due to the lack of essential regulation, it is not able to establish and maintain a
transparent operation.
As to the role and composition of the Board of Public Services see the reference to
“participation in bodies of media operators (viewers’ and listeners’ councils or alike) or in
(self-)regulatory authorities/bodies” below.
- Freedom of information laws
Reference shall also be made to Act CXII of 2011 on Informational Self-determination
and Freedom of Information 59 (“Freedom of Information Act”). Beyond defining the right
of the individual to privacy in respect of his/her personal data the act also defines the
58
59
MM 97. § (8).
http://www.naih.hu/files/act_2011_cxii_in_eng_v2.pdf.
284
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
circle of data of public interest and provides for their openness as a general rule. For the
protection of the rights enshrined in the Freedom of Information Act the Authority for
Data Protection and Freedom of Information 60 has been set up as an autonomous
regulatory organ.
The act also defines the procedure of granting access to data of public interest. In
accordance with its rules
 “Requests for accessing data of public interest may be made verbally, submitted in
writing or electronically by anyone. “ 61
 “The body undertaking public duties controlling the data shall satisfy the
requirements relating to accessing data of public interest within the shortest
possible space of time, but within a maximum period of 15 days.” 62
Beyond providing information on request, state institutions also have the obligation to
publish a circle of specified data of public interest “free of charge in digital format on
internet websites for anyone interested, without disclosing any personal ID data or
applying restrictions, in printable format ensuring the opportunity to copy parts of the
text without data loss or distortion, enabling the document to be viewed, copies to be
downloaded and printed, as well as network data transfer” 63. Access to such data cannot
be subject to the disclosure of personal data 64.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
There are no information to mention or applicable here.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
As a representative of the public in issues related to telecommunications and media
services MM established the institution of the Media Commissioner 65. The role of the
Commissioner is to consider complaints from members of the public and initiate dialogue
with the service providers.
Since his appointment the Commissioner, inter alia, conducted an inquiry regarding SMS
votings in television programmes. This resulted in a report and a recommendation.
Another action of the Commissioner was the initiation of a professional debate on the
portrayal of suicide in the media.
It is to note that on the basis of the recent decision 165/2011. (XII.20.) AB of the
Constitutional Court 66, the amendment currently under acceptance by the Parliament
provides that the Commissioner will no longer be in the position to consider complaints
with regard to any individual media outlet.
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
http://www.naih.hu/information.html.
Freedom of Information Act 28. § (1).
Freedom of Information Act 29. § (1).
Freedom of Information Act 33. § (1).
Freedom of Information Act 33. § (1).
http://www.mhb.nmhh.hu/?id=hfjkmenu&mid=1373.
http://hunmedialaw.org/dokumentum/94/08_1652011_Abh_final.pdf.
285
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
In order to carry out the function of “social control over the public media service” 67 MM
instituted the body of the Board of Public Services. This board constantly monitors how
public service orientation is manifested, and exercises certain control over the public
media service providers 68. The membership of the board is composed of representatives
of organisations of the civil society, churches, and other similar associations.
14.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
Hungary is a relatively small media market with approximately 3.8 million households.
This has definitive consequences for its media markets.
14.2.1.
Radio
At the national level there are two commercial radio channels Class FM and Neo FM. They
concluded their broadcasting contract with the ORTT (the predecessor of the Media
Council of the NMHH) in 2009 following a tender. The tender itself was scandalous, and
the president of the ORTT has resigned after the decision. It was clear that the financial
bids of the two winners were absolutely unrealistic (Class FM: 200 million HUF + 55% of
the revenue, Neo FM: 200 million HUF + 50% of the revenue annually). The
developments of the last years proved the worst-case scenarios in two ways, the political
forces determining the sustainability of the two stations: Class FM, closely related to the
biggest governmental party, is heavily financed by making available airtime to
commercials of state-owned companies (e.g. gambling monopoly), while Neo FM, linked
to the Socialist Party, has no prospects for profitable operation. It was unable to pay the
licence fee, so the NMHH cancelled its contract on 20 June 2012. Neo FM will be closed
after the legal procedure.
The public service radio is present, inter alia, with three national programmes on the
market. MR1-Kossuth is a generalist channel focusing mainly on news and talk. MR2Petőfi is dedicated mainly to light entertainment (i.e. contemporary music). On the other
hand, the backbone of the programme MR3-Bartók is provided by classical music.
Among the national radios Class FM has the highest ratings. It is followed by MR1Kossuth and Neo FM 69.
The national level of the radio market is complemented by a considerable segment of
local radio channels. Currently there are 222 local broadcasters in the registry of the
NMHH, most of them are local radio stations (local television channels account for a
significantly smaller portion among them). Local radios have typically high ratings 70.
14.2.2.
Television
A definitive characteristic of the Hungarian television broadcasting landscape is the
almost total lack of the regional and local level. Although there are a number of local
television channels they cannot be considered as a significant part of the media market,
both in terms of ratings and revenues. As to the different actors of the Hungarian media
landscape their three main types can be distinguished:
67
68
69
70
MM 97. § (6).
MM 97. § (7).
Data of 2011 december, IPSOS-GfK, ReachN.
IPSOS-GfK, research of 2011 September – available at:
http://www.helyiradiok.hu/index.php?action=kutatas_hallg.
286
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 In market terms the most important broadcasters are M-RTL Zrt. and MTM-SBS Zrt,
the operators of the two national terrestrial television channels under the brands of
“RTL-Klub” and “Tv2”. Both of them are subsidiaries of major pan-European media
enterprises: M-RTL is part of the RTL Group, MTM-SBS has been acquired by the
Pro7Sat.1-holding. They began to provide their programmes right after the creation
of the dual media system in 1997 at about the same time. Their broadcasting
contracts are valid until the summer of 2012. After the years of close competition
between the two national commercial channels RTL Klub became the dominant
player. Today RTL Klub is clearly the market leader, while market share of Tv2 is
declining and it generated huge financial loss in 2012. There are rumours about the
sale of MTM-SBS and the potential buyer is Infocenter. It is one of the biggest
Hungarian media groups, partly owned by Zsolt Nyerges, who is closely related to
the current right-wing government. Infocenter owns Class FM commercial radio,
Heti Valasz, a political weekly magazine, and Lanchid Radio, the regional radio
station that acquired several local frequencies in the first months of 2012.
 The second most significant group of television broadcasters in Hungary is the
segment of thematic channels. There are approximately 100 television channels
available for the Hungarian audiences in the national language as parts of the offers
of various cable television and satellite network operators. It is worth noting that
only 22 of them operate under the Hungarian jurisdiction. The rest are registered
mostly in the Czech Republic, Romania or in the UK.
 The two public service television companies, MTV and Duna Tv, have obviously not
recovered from the shock they suffered by losing their monopoly in 1997, when MRTL and MTM-SBS entered the Hungarian market. Now, compared to their huge
economic weight (their aggregated yearly turnover equals approximately one third
of the total Hungarian market’s) their audience share is extremely low (in the
fourth quarter of 2011 it was 13.6%) 71. They operate four public television
channels.
14.2.3.
Press and Publishing
The daily of the largest circulation is Metropol, with an average of 274 296 copies 72
disseminated per issue. However, Metropol is distributed for free, therefore it cannot be
compared to other newspapers.
The daily newspaper sold in the highest numbers is the Ringier-owned tabloid Blikk with
173 969 copies sold as a daily average.
The best selling political daily is the Ringier-owned Népszabadság, with 61 811 copies
sold per day. The other major political dailies are Magyar Nemzet (with 44 610 copies
sold as daily average), Népszava (with 19 149 copies sold as daily average) and Magyar
Hírlap (with 10 651 copies sold as daily average).
Concerning the readership data, Blikk is the market leader daily newspaper (1,043,000
readers), followed by Metropol (623,000 readers) and Nemzeti Sport, the only Hungarian
sports newspaper (261,000 readers). The most popular political daily, Népszabadság, has
only 222,000 readers. 73
71
72
73
http://www.agbnielsen.com/Uploads/Hungary/stat_shr_negyedeves_2011.pdf.
The source of the data in this chapter is http://www.matesz.hu/data/#mainpart_2. All data reflects to the
4th quarter of 2011.
2011Q4 data. Source: Marketing&Média (2012 April 25-May 8, p. 22).
287
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
In the local press sector the German Axel Springer publishing house is still the largest
player with ten titles published daily. The market of weeklies, monthlies and other
magazines are dominated by Axel Springer, Ringier and Sanoma.
In general, the market of the printed press is characterised by a constant and general
decline. Népszabadság, for example, has lost more than a third of its readers since 2008.
However, due to the similar scale of losses at other newspapers, it managed to keep its
leading position among political dailies even with this shrinkage.
14.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
Non-linear audiovisual media services account for a small part of the Hungarian
audiovisual market. There are currently 59 non-linear media service providers registered
at the media authority. These services are, in most of the cases, ancillary services to
other content services (radio and television programmes).
The most frequently visited 74 Hungarian website is origo, a subsidiary of the incumbent
telecommunications services provider T-Com. The other most visited group of websites is
of the Central European Media & Publishing (CEMP) group, index being the largest of
them. Both origo and index are news sites.
Ringier (Népszabadság Online – Nol), Sanoma (Startlap) and Axel Springer
(Világgazdaság online, internet versions of regional newspapers) are also present in the
on-line segment of the Hungarian media market with their content services.
Just like in other countries, blogs, social networking sites and other web 2.0 services
became an important field of the public debates; mainstream media companies have
decreasing influence on agenda setting.
14.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
The dominant platform of audiovisual programme distribution is cable in Hungary. The
share of the particular programme distribution methods can be outlined as follows 75:
Table 72 HU: Shares of distribution platforms
Analogue cable
40%
Digital cable/IPTV
18%
Satellite with subscription
24%
Digital terrestrial
Analogue terrestrial
3%
14%
The three main operators of programme distribution platforms are:

UPC (with 25.8% of the television households)
 Digi (with 23% of the television households)
 T-Home (with 22.7% of the television households) 76
74
75
The basis of the information provided under this chapter is the data of Webaudit concerning the week of
20th – 26th of February this year.
http://english.nmhh.hu/dokumentum/150011/tv_gyorsj_2012_marcius_eng.pdf.
288
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The digital switchover on the terrestrial radio and television platforms began in 2008,
when the telecom regulator NHH (predecessor of the current NMHH), following a
tendering procedure, has concluded the administrative contracts with Antenna Hungária
Zrt. for digital radio and television programme distribution. According to data of the
NMHH the share of digital transmission was 60.0% on the Hungarian television market in
March of 2012 77. The share of digital terrestrial television was 3% 78.
As regards Internet access the leading fix internet providers are T-Home (a subsidiary of
Deutsche Telekom), UPC and Digi. operators. Although the dominant way of internet
access is fixed access, mobile broadband services are gaining an increasing share on the
market, all of the three players (T-mobile, Telenor, Vodafone) have growing subscription
base. 79.
14.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
Data on media usage can be obtained from various actors:
 Radio audience measurement is provided by the GfK 80/Ipsos 81–consortium;
 Television ratings are provided by Nielsen Audience Measurement 82;
 Circulation of newspapers is followed by the Hungarian Association for Controlling
Circulation (MATESz) Print Audit 83;
 Data on the usage of websites are provided by gemius/Ipsos 84.
According to the estimates of the Hungarian Advertisers’ Association the total volume of
the Hungarian advertising market was 151.474 billion Huf (approximately 587.337
million Euros) in 2011 85. The shares of the main types of media within this total turnover
were 86:
Table 73 HU: Advertising market shares
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
Television
36.2%
Print media
27.5%
Internet
18.8%
Outdoor + Ambient
10.0%
Radio
4.9%
source of data: nmhh flash report on television 2012 march, available at
http://english.nmhh.hu/dokumentum/150011/tv_gyorsj_2012_marcius_eng.pdf.
http://english.nmhh.hu/dokumentum/150011/tv_gyorsj_2012_marcius_eng.pdf.
http://nmhh.hu/dokumentum/151795/dig_atallas_2012_tavasz_webre_vegleges.pdf.
for
details
see
the
research
of
the
NMHH
of
2011:
http://nmhh.hu/dokumentum/
2220/lakossagi_net_2011_vegleges_webre.pdf.
http://www.gfk.hu/index.en.html.
http://www.ipsos.hu/site/?lang=en.
http://www.agbnielsen.net/whereweare/dynPage.asp?lang=english&id=318&country=Hungary.
http://www.matesz.hu/data/index.php.
http://opa.gemius.hu/.
http://mrsz.hu/download.php?oid=Ta3f31594b5d0814974b2fe97a550276;aid=
T73735504853071a9b4cc369a0a43f00.
http://mrsz.hu/download.php?oid=Ta3f31594b5d0814974b2fe97a550276;aid=
T73735504853071a9b4cc369a0a43f00.
289
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The overall turnover of the Hungarian advertising market is constantly declining since
2008.
14.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Media fulfils the same dual role in every culture: it preserves and develops the common
cultural heritage and provides the free flow of credible information necessary for the
functioning of democracy. By the very nature of media economics these roles require the
same scale of commitment from small and great countries. In this context the relatively
small size of the Hungarian media market means that the Hungarian media has to fulfil
its role on a significantly smaller economic basis than some of its European counterparts.
This leads to sometimes unavoidable compromises in terms of quality and diversity of
content.
As regards regulation reference has to be made to the widespread international criticism
expressed in relation with the legislation of 2010. The Hungarian media regulation, as it
is indicated by the recent decision of the Constitutional Court, and the recent motion of
the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights certainly had and has its weaknesses.
However, these decisions also indicate, that internal correctional mechanisms are
functional in this respect.
As conclusions and recommendations, we can cite the analyses and recommendations of
the international organisations.
The Constitutional Court failed to even dredge up the most sensitive regulatory issues in
his decision in December 2011. For instance, it failed to address the extent of sanction,
the independence of the Media Council, and the constitutional viability of the entire
system of public service institutions. It will be impossible to restore freedom of the press
without solving these problems. Although the Constitutional Court refrained from forcing
the legislature to make a move in these issues, there are places it could well turn to for
inspiration to hammer through comprehensive amendments even more far-reaching than
the considerations itemized above. Many studies and analyses of the Media Act have
been published since its adoption, both in Hungary and abroad. These have been
invariably swept aside or simply ignored by the government. The situation has changed
somewhat in that the Council of Europe is now looking into the compatibility of the Act
with the European Convention on Human Rights and various Council of Europe
documents. Lending further weight to the investigation, the Vice-President of the
European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda publicly forced the Hungarian
Minister of Public Administration and Justice to promise that the findings will be
respected.
The most comprehensive critics were formulatad by the Council of Europe in May 2012. 87
This expertise analysed the problems of the Hungarian media acts on 47 pages. There is
no point in the acts that are not object of considerable criticism. Most of the critic has
turned up in former documents of the Council of Europe and other NGOs, but this
analysis makes it clear that the acts cannot be improved by partial modification but
rather they need to be fundamentally overviewed. The result of this overview is probably
a new legislation.
87
Expertise by Council of Europe experts on Hungarian media legislation,
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CE8QFjAA&url=http%3A%
2F%2Fwww.coe.int%2Fc%2Fdocument_library%2Fget_file%3Fuuid%3Dfbc88585-eb71-4545-bc5db727e35f59ae%26groupId%3D10227&ei=
1iTrT_-1GIbd4QTTorzmAg&usg=AFQjCNHHwEFUxRlvj6eB3UeQwjj2Stkaqg&sig2=
iXkijJCYhDh0r-bSWdAyig.
290
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
In March 2012, the Council of Europe formulated four objections to be taken into account
in order to promote the legislative process. These objections point the way far beyond
the Resolution of the Constitutional Court, and both their wording and timing clearly
suggest that their aim was to influence the amendment in meaningful ways. In its own
civilized European manner — and perhaps erring on the side of political correctness —
the CoE voiced its expectations concerning the political independence of the Media
Council, the reformation of the system of sanctions, the clarification of media-rights
prohibitions and obligations, and the protection of sources. Even if the government
chooses to consider the CoE’s position a legislative “must”, the issue of the Media
Council’s independence is likely to be bogged down in endless debate. This is because the
government and the ruling parties are convinced that the Media Council is independent
as it is, and it will be very difficult to move away from this position.
In February 2011, the Council of Europe and its Commissioner for Human Rights posted a
comprehensive report on the Media Act and made proposals for its amendment. 88 The
Council of Europe, however, is not the only body that has compiled a detailed list of
objections. In February 2011, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) published a study on the Media Act. 89 In April that year, the UN Special
Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and
expression, delivered a set of critical observations and recommendations in a
statement. 90 The overwhelming majority of these recommendations are yet to be fulfilled
despite the fact that the National Assembly satisfied all expectations of the European
Commission regarding harmonization with European Union media laws last March. These
revisions, however, left the most serious doubts about the Act unaddressed.
The cause of abolishing the regulation of print and online media products has been most
firmly embraced by the OSCE, which protests the hazy definitions used by legislators as
something that permits further services to be subjected to the Media Act. The UN
Rapporteur also considers the scope of the regulation “problematic,” and recommends
limiting it to the audiovisual sector in relation to distribution of frequencies, while
encouraging self-regulation of the print media and the Internet.
The February report of the Council of Europe voiced doubts over the ambiguity of
stipulations, particularly as regards balanced coverage. Although the requirement of
balanced coverage has since been narrowed down to radio and television programming
from the original version of the Media Act, this does not affect the validity of the Council
of Europe’s previous finding that, “whether or not Article 13 is interpreted in a manner
which restricts media freedom, the very fact that such a possibility exists is enough to
have a profound chilling effect on media’s preparedness to challenge, dissent and assume
unpopular positions.” It recommended, and continues to recommend in its own gentle
manner, that the stipulation of balanced coverage be abolished altogether as is. The
criticism of vaguely worded provisions, and the requirement of balanced coverage in
particular, which permits a variety of subjective and unpredictable interpretations — and
as such belongs in the preamble to the Act in the opinion of the OSCE — recurs in the
reports delivered by both the OSCE and the UN. The UN Rapporteur recommends that
the requirement of balanced coverage not be stipulated by law but regulated by media
organisations as voluntary codes of conduct. The OSCE extends these doubts to the
provisions requiring certain diversity of programming from “providers of significant
powers of influence”.
88
89
90
https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1751289.
http://www.osce.org/fom/75990.
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10915&LangID=E.
291
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
The OSCE report reserves approval of regulating the interdiction of hate speech by media
law exclusively on condition that the scope of the regulation does not encompass each
type of media. Unlike the Hungarian Constitutional Court, the OSCE does not consider
regulations in excess of existing prohibitions by criminal law to be acceptable except
when confined to television and radio broadcasting at most. Additionally, the report
argues that the interdiction of exclusion is laid bare to abuse by permitting a broad range
of interpretations.
In the opinion of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, the system of
sanctions set forth by the Media Act needs substantial revision to be reconciled with the
Convention of Human Rights and case law of the European Court of Human Rights in
respect of freedom of expression. Already in February 2011, the Commissioner argued
that the system of sanctions should be repealed altogether and violations dealt with on
the basis of general sanctions available under existing provisions of civil and criminal law.
Essentially the same recommendation to abolish these sanctions as being frustrating for
media providers and encouraging self-censorship — and therefore detrimental to
diversity — can be found in the statement delivered by the UN Rapporteur.
In terms of the requirement to register print and online media, the Commissioner went
much further than the Constitutional Court and proposed that these media products
should be simply excluded from the registration requirements altogether. The UN and the
OSCE has taken the same view of this matter.
In their reports, all the international organisations raise criticism against the composition
and powers of the media authority. Regarding the body’s independence, the Council of
Europe concludes that “[t]he provisions regarding appointment, composition and tenure
demand amendment not least because they lack the appearance of independence and
impartiality, quite apart from a de facto freedom from political pressure or control. The
opinion refers to the Recommendation of the Council of Europe for guidance, which
enumerates the following safeguards of independence: rules should guarantee that the
members of these authorities are appointed in a democratic and transparent manner;
that immunity from instructions is given; that members refrain from making any
statement or undertake any action which may prejudice the independence of their
functions; and that precise rules exist in respect of grounds for dismissing members. The
OSCE objects to the Media Council’s excessive powers encompassing both print and
Internet-based media, and finds the body’s independence dubious. According to the
report, it is imperative to guarantee the political pluralism of the media authority,
regardless of the degree to which the ruling parties may be dominating in Parliament.
The study also takes issue with the excessive concentration of power that subsumes
control over the operation of the public service institutions, as well as with the overly
long terms of office to which members of the Media Council are appointed. The UN
Rapporteur is hardly more optimistic about the independence and impartiality of the
media authority, which he claims will pose a serious risk of arbitrary applications of the
law — a jeopardy compounded by the vagueness of the stipulated requirements. In line
with the other organisations, the Rapporteur recommends that the Government “consider
alternative methods of nominating, reviewing, and appointing members of the Media
Authority.”
In its opinion delivered in February 2011, the Council of Europe had voiced concerns over
the alleged independence of public service media provision, but this issue did not come
up among the topics dealt with in this year’s assessment. At the time, the opinion found
that, under the Media Act, the procedure of nominating and appointing senior
management officials to public service media — a procedure crucially overseen by the
292
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
President of the Media Council — ran counter to CoE standards because it failed to ensure
freedom from undue political influence. For much the same reason, the opinion criticizes
the move whereby the President of the Media Council became, indirectly through the
Media Support and Asset Management Fund, the employer of practically every single
journalist working in public service media. As for the regulation of the public service
system, the OSCE report also concludes that the current scheme of control over the
institutions fails to guarantee political independence, nor does the regulation of financing
ensure the independence of day-to-day operations.
To sum up the above, we recommend to the Hungarian legislator to take into
consideration the analyses of national and international organisations as well as NGOs
and accomplish a comprehensive overhaul of the Hungarian media law. We recommend
to the European Parliament and other European institutions to give help to this work and
control the Hungarian governance in this process.
293
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
15.
IRELAND
15.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
15.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The Freedom of Expression is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic Of Ireland
which states under Article 40, paragraph 6.1 as follows:
“The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public
order and morality: (i) The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and
opinions. The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import
to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion,
such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of
expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine
public order or morality or the authority of the State. The publication or utterance of
blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in
accordance with law”. 1
The European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003 incorporated the European
Convention on Human Rights into Irish law. The Act provides in Section 2(1) that “In
interpreting and applying any statutory provision or rule of law, a court shall, in so far as
is possible, subject to the rules of law relating to such interpretation and application, do
so in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the Convention provisions.”
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
Media are specifically mentioned in the Constitution (“organs of public opinion, such as
the radio, the press, the cinema”; television was added to the list by case-law 2).
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Constitution of the Republic Of Ireland contains no specific provisions regarding
regulatory authorities.
 Safeguards on “universal service”
The fundamental Law does not include specific safeguards regarding universal service
obligations in the media sector.
1
2
The Constitution of Ireland,
http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/attached_files/Pdf%20files/Constitution%20of%20Ireland.pdf.
State (Lynch) v. Cooney [1982] IR 337.
294
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
15.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is responsible for the licensing of
broadcasting services 3 including those provided by the public service broadcasters, as the
Broadcasting Act stipulates. All national, regional, local, special interest and television
content services are licensed for a period of 10 years. Community, community of interest
and institutional services are licensed for 5 years or 10 years.
Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act specifies in detail the remit of the national Public
Service Broadcaster RTÉ:
(a)
to establish, maintain and operate a national television and sound broadcasting
service which shall have the character of a public service, be a free-to-air service
and be made available, in so far as it is reasonably practicable, to the whole
community on the island of Ireland,
(b)
to establish and maintain a website and teletext services
(c)
to establish and maintain orchestras, choirs and other cultural performing groups
(d)
to assist and co-operate with the relevant public bodies inpreparation for, and
execution of, the dissemination of relevant information to the public in the event of
a major emergency,
(e)
to establish and maintain archives and libraries containing materials relevant to the
objects of RTÉ under this subsection,
(f)
to establish, maintain and operate a television broadcasting service and a sound
broadcasting service which shall have the character of a public service, which
services shall be made available, in so far as RTÉ considers reasonably practicable,
to Irish communities outside the island of Ireland,
(g)
subject to the consent of the Minister, the Minister having consulted with the
Authority, to establish, maintain and operate, in so far as it is reasonably
practicable, community, local, or regional broadcasting services, which shall have
the character of a public service, and be available free-to-air,
(h)
subject to the consent of the Minister, the Minister having consulted with the
Authority, to establish and maintain non-broadcast non-linear audio-visual media
services, in so far as it is reasonably practicable, which shall have the character of a
public broadcasting service.
(i)
to establish, maintain, and operate one or more national multiplexes,
3
The Broadcasting Act, 2009 defines broadcasting service as “a service which comprises a compilation of
programme material of any description and which is transmitted, relayed or distributed by means of an
electronic communications network, directly or indirectly for simultaneous or near simultaneous reception
by the general public, whether that material is actually received or not, and where the programmes are
provided in a pre-scheduled and linear order”. However, excluded from the definition of a broadcasting
service are services provided in a non-linear manner where each user of the service chooses a programme
from a catalogue of programmes (such as video on demand), and audio and audiovisual services provided
by way of the internet.
295
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
(j)
so far as it is reasonably practicable, to exploit such commercial opportunities as
may arise in pursuit of the objects outlined in paragraphs (a) to (i).
Article 114 further requires that in pursuit of the stated objects, RTÉ shall,
(a)
be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community, be mindful of
the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland, ensure
that the programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the
people of the whole island of Ireland, and have special regard for the elements
which distinguish that culture and in particular for the Irish language,
(b)
uphold the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution, especially those
relating to rightful liberty of expression, and
(c)
have regard to the need for the formation of public awareness and understanding of
the values and traditions of countries other than the State, including in particular
those of other Member States.
Section 39 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 regulates specific statutory obligations in
relation to the manner and content of coverage. It provides that every broadcaster shall
ensure that
(a) all news broadcast by the broadcaster is reported and presented in an objective and
impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views,
(b) the broadcast treatment of current affairs, including matters which are either of
public controversy or the subject of current public debate, is fair to all interests
concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial
manner and without any expression of his or her own views, except that should it
prove impracticable in relation to a single broadcast to apply this paragraph, two or
more related broadcasts may be considered as a whole, if the broadcasts are
transmitted within a reasonable period of each other.
For print publications there are no notification required.
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
Section 25 of the Broadcasting Act requires that BAI shall ensure the provision of open
and pluralistic broadcasting services. The Act specifies that in fulfilling the above general
duties BAI shall “promote diversity in control of the more influential commercial and
community broadcasting services”. In addition, the Act requires BAI when awarding a
licence to have regard to the desirability of allowing any person, or group of persons, to
have control of, or substantial interests in, an undue amount of the communications
media in the area and the desirability of having a diversity of services in the area
catering for a wide range of tastes including those of minority interests. 4 In the 2012
document “Ownership and Control Policy”, 5 BAI specified that one investor should not
hold more than 25% of the licences. Up to 15% of the total number of licences is deemed
“acceptable” with up to a further 10% ownership of the total number requiring “more
careful consideration by the Authority”. There are no set-percentages for permissible
cross-media ownership restrictions in Ireland, although BAI must have regard to “the
desirability of allowing any person (…) to have control of (…) an undue amount of the
4
5
Broadcasting Act 2009, s 66(2)(f).
http://www.bai.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012-OC-policy-Apr-2012.pdf.
296
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
communications media in the area specified”. The lack of set-percentages for permissible
cross-media ownership has allowed the development of some major players, such as
O’Brien’s Communicorp, which has interests in the radio and publishing sectors in
Ireland. Subsequent moves by Communicorp to grow even further have been
consistently accepted by the BAI.
The unique features of the media sector and the concentration thereof have also been
recognised by the Irish Competition Act, 2002, 6 which provides for a specific procedure
for the review of media mergers. Generally, mergers have to be notified to the
Competition Authority only after certain turnover thresholds are exceeded. However,
media mergers must be notified to the Competition Authority irrespective of the turnover
of the merging companies. Media merger is defined as a merger or acquisition in which
two or more of the undertakings involved carry on a media business in Ireland. Media
mergers are assessed by the Competition Authority (on competition grounds) and the
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (on pluralism grounds). The Minister has
quite wide ranging powers in this respect. He may order the Authority to open a second
phase investigation, or decide that the merger may not be approved.
Where a media merger involves the assignment of a broadcasting licence, or the change
in ownership or control of a broadcaster licensed by the BAI, the prior written consent of
the BAI is required for the media merger to proceed.
In March 2008 the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment established the
Advisory Group on Media Mergers. In January 2009 the Minister published the Report of
the Group. 7 The main recommendation is that the Competition Act should be amended to
incorporate a statutory test to be applied by the Minister in the discharge of his or her
function in relation to media mergers and there should also be a statutory definition of
media plurality. The statutory test suggested by the Advisory Group is “whether the
result of the media merger is likely to be contrary to the public interest in protecting
plurality in media business in the State.” In addition, the Report recommends that the
definition of “media business” should be amended to include publication of newspapers
and periodicals over the Internet and broadcast of certain audiovisual material over the
Internet. In September 2011 the Minister for Communications announced that the
government is working on a legislation to put the Group’s recommendations into
practice. 8 The rules on media mergers will form part of the new and complex consumer
and competition Bill which is due to be published in the end of 2012. In May 2012, the
Minister attempted to fast-track the media merger legislation by extracting the sections
dealing with media mergers from the larger Bil and having a separate Bill on media
mergers adopted before the summer recess of the Irish Parliament. Unfortunately, this
effort proved unsuccessful. 9
As factual situation with regard to media concentration it is worth mentioning that the
two top-selling daily newspapers and the two top-selling Sunday papers are owned by
one company, Independent News and Media (Ireland) Ltd. The company also publishes
13 local newspapers.
There is also a problem with the cross-ownership of newspapers and radio stations. In
July 2007, Denis O’Brien’s company Communicorp, which owns two Dublin radio stations
6
7
8
9
Competition Act 2002, (No. 14 of 2002).
“Tánaiste publishes Report of the Advisory Group on Media Mergers”, Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Employment, Press Release, 2 January 2009, http://www.entemp.ie/press/2009/20090102.htm, accessed
14 October 2009.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0919/1224304354681.html.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0517/1224316239749.html.
297
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
(98FM and Spin FM), one national radio station (Newstalk) and a 26% stake in
Independent News and Media, acquired national radio station Today FM and Dublin
station FM104 from Emap. This acquisition would give Communicorp control over almost
25% of all commercial radio licences in Ireland and over 53% audience share in Dublin.
The Competition Authority ordered Communicorp to divest itself of FM104 10 and at the
end of 2007, Communicorp sold FM104 to UTV. 11 However, the cross-ownership issue
with Independent News and Media was dismissed by the Competition Authority which
stated that radio and press advertising are two separate markets. In July 2008 the
Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) investigated the cross-ownership concern
between Communicorp and Independent News and Media, but concluded that the
interests of Communicorp in Independent News and Media were not substantial. This
seemed to have changed in March 2009 when three of O’Brien’s long-term associates
were appointed to the board of Independent News and Media. However, in July 2009 the
BCI concluded again that Communicorp does not control an "undue" share of the
country's media market. In April 2012, Gavin O’Reilly, stepped down as chief executive of
Independent News and Media, the move which ended 39 years of direct control by his
family of Ireland’s largest media group. His decision followed weeks of speculation in the
Irish press that O’Brien would seek to have O’Reilly removed at the annual meeting in
June. Reacting to the event, the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny commented that ‘the
Government would consider ‘cross-ownership’ of the media after an escalation in the
battle for control of INM’. 12
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
Public service broadcasting is regulated by Part 7 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009. There
are two public service broadcasters in Ireland – RTÉ and TG4. They are financed by
licence fee and advertising and operate under the oversight of their governing boards.
RTÉ submitted its Statement of Strategy for 2010-2014 to
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on 12 January 2010.
the
Minister
of
In addition, both RTÉ and TG4 are required to prepare an Annual Statement of
Performance Commitments and to make this document publicly available, having
consulted with the Authority and the Minister. The Statement is required to take into
account the organisation’s objects under the Broadcasting Act, their strategy statement
and their public service statement. It must also detail any activities which the
broadcaster intends to commit to in that year and to include any associated performance
indicators. 13
RTÉ’s 2011 high-level strategic objectives were:
 Excellence in Public Service: Fulfil all our Public Service Objects and strive for the
highest standards in ethics and accountability, on and off-air;
 High quality, distinctively Irish content: Be the leading creator of the best quality,
distinctively Irish content and the premier and most trusted source of Irish news
and current affairs;
10
11
12
13
The Competition Authority, Determination of Merger Notification M/07/040, Communicorp/SRH, 7
December 2007.
The Competition Authority, Determination of Merger Notification M/07/069, UTV/FM104, 17 January 2008.
‘O'Reilly resigns as IN&M head’, The Irish Times, 19 April 2012.
See BAI http://www.bai.ie/?page_id=2146.
298
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
 Technology - Delivery of our content: Harness technologies to ensure delivery of
and access to our content across the widest range of platforms and devices to meet
the needs of the audience;
 Finances: Effectively manage RTÉ’s finances into the future through optimising
funding sources and controlling costs;
 Organisation, structures and staff: Ensure that RTÉ has a high quality workforce
and is optimally organised to deliver the best value for money service to the Irish
public;
 Partnerships: Establish and maintain collaborative partnerships and take a
leadership role in the creative and digital economies in Ireland.
According to the Annual Statement of Performance Commitments 2011 the objectives
were for the large part fulfilled.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The responsibility for regulating the broadcasting sector in Ireland lies with several
different authorities. BAI 14 is a content regulator. It issues licences and deals with media
pluralism and diversity aspects. The Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural
Resources develops a policy and legislative framework for broadcasting in Ireland and the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment takes part in the approval of media
mergers from a media pluralism perspective. The Commission for Communications
Regulation (ComReg) 15 is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting transmission and
the Competition Authority deals with competition issues.
Broadcasting regulation in Ireland has recently undergone a significant change. As
mentioned in the previous Report, 16 in December 2002 the Minister for Communications
announced that he intended to create a new structure for regulation in this area. The
new Broadcasting Act, 2009 transposes the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS)
into Irish law and repeals most of the previous legislation in the area. 17 The key features
of the reform are, first and foremost, the establishment of BAI as a single content
regulator for all commercial, community and public service broadcasters in Ireland. The
BAI encompasses the existing regulatory functions of the Broadcasting Commission of
Ireland, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the RTÉ Authority. BAI is not,
however, a fully-integrated broadcasting and communications regulator similar to OFCOM
because the communications regulator (ComReg) and the Competition Authority remain
separate. The BAI was established on 1 October 2009 and comprises nine members.
BAI exercises the following attributions: licensing broadcasting and multiplex services;
developing of a Statement of Strategy for the regulation of broadcasting services in
Ireland; 18 examining ownership issues; operating a complaints procedure; developing a
14
15
16
17
18
Before the Broadcasting Act, 2009, BAI was known as the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).
See Communications Regulation Act, 2002 (No. 20 of 2002), which established the Commission for
Communications Regulation (ComReg), Sections 6-38.
Final report of the study on “The information of the citizen in the EU: obligations for the media and the
Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed” Prepared on behalf of the
European
Parliament
by
the
European
Institute
for
the
Media,
2004,
p.
107,
http://www.epra.org/content/english/press/papers/European%20Citizen%20Information%20Project%20Fi
nal%20REPORT.pdf.
In particular, Radio and Television Act, 1988 (No. 20 of 1988) and Broadcasting Act, 2001 (No. 4 of
2001).
BAI Broadcasting Services Strategy,
http://www.bai.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/BAI-BSS-2012-BF.pdf.
299
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
right of reply scheme; developing broadcasting codes and rules; consulting with the
Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) on frequency planning and
allocation for radio and television services.
BAI consults with the Minister for Communications on a range of public service
broadcasting matters including assessing the extent to which RTÉ and the Irish language
station, TG4, has fulfilled its public service commitments in respect of its public service
objectives. It also reviews the funding levels to ensure there is the funding necessary to
carry the public service role.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is the statutory body
responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector (telecommunications, radio communications and broadcasting transmission) and the postal
sector. With regard to the broadcasting sector, the main roles of ComReg are as
follows: 19 to plan and co-ordinate internationally, in co-operation with other
stakeholders, broadcast transmission networks for Ireland; to input into national
broadcasting policy development; to develop and issue licences to BAI and RTÉ
containing rights of use to spectrum for terrestrial TV and radio broadcasts; to devise
new licensing regimes as required and draft appropriate secondary legislation, and to
monitor and enforce compliance with licence terms and conditions.
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
Another new development since the situation described in the previous report in 2004,
was the adoption of the Defamation Act, 2009. The Act removed the distinction which
existed at common law between torts of libel and slander and replaced it by a single tort
of defamation. Before the adoption of the 2009 Act, there had been a trend towards
awarding very high damages in defamation cases. 20 One of the reasons was the fact that
judges were prohibited from providing any directions to juries as far as damages were
concerned. This had been subject to criticism and calls for reform. Thus, the Defamation
Act, 2009 provides that parties may make submissions to the court on the matter of
damages and High Court judges shall give directions to the jury on the matter of
damages. In addition, the Act introduced new fast-track measures allowing matters to be
disposed of pre-trial (e.g. summary disposal procedure, lodgement of money) and it
provided for alternative remedies to damages (declaratory order or correction order). It
also updated the list of available defences (the most noteworthy is the introduction of the
defence of fair and reasonable publication and the offer to make amends).
There is no express reference to a right to privacy in the Irish Constitution. The Supreme
Court ruled that the right derives from the unspecified personal rights in Article 40.3.1 of
the Constitution. There is no overarching statute. A Privacy Bill was proposed in 2006
and envisaged the creation of a specific tort of the invasion of privacy. The Bill was much
criticised and as a result it has never been signed into law and is currently shelved.
Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution provides that “the publication or utterance of
blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in
accordance with law”. The previous Defamation Act, 1961, provided for penalties for
printing or publishing blasphemous libel, but no definition of “blasphemy”. Thus, in the
only case involving allegations of blasphemy, the Supreme Court refused prosecution due
19
20
See http://www.comreg.ie/radio_spectrum/broadcasting.542.html.
€10 million awarded to Donal Kinsella in 2010.
300
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
to lack of any definition of blasphemy in either the Constitution or statute. 21 A definition
has controversially been introduced in Section 36 of the Defamation Act, 2009. The
ingredients of the offence of blasphemy are as follows: (i) uttering material grossly
abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, (ii) when the intent
and result is outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion. The
offence is punishable by a maximum fine of € 25,000. A defence is permitted for work of
genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value. The definition of
“religion" excludes profit-driven organizations or those using "oppressive psychological
manipulation".
The Broadcasting Act, 2009 provides for a wider right of reply mechanism than
previously. Section 49 specifies that the right applies to any person whose honour or
reputation has been impugned by an assertion of incorrect facts or information in a
broadcast. The reply must state to what extent the information was incorrect or
misleading and must be limited to factual assertions necessary to rectify what would
otherwise be an incomplete or distorting assertion.
Furthermore, the Defamation Act, 2009 stipulated that the courts can have regard to the
decisions of the Ombudsman and the Press Council in defamation cases.
Up until recently the protection of journalists’ sources and the existence of journalistic
privilege has been uncertain. Refusal to answer questions in court during crossexamination may amount to obstruction of justice and be classified as criminal contempt
of court. Privilege to refuse to answer questions in court is enjoyed in certain
circumstances by solicitors, clergy and members of the parliament. However, already in
the case Re Kevin O’Kelly (1974), the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that there was no
protection of journalistic sources in Ireland and the fact that a communication was made
under terms of express confidence or implied confidence did not create a privilege
against disclosure. A recent Supreme Court judgment in a seminal case in Mahon v
Keena and Kennedy (2009) marked a departure from the approach in Re Kevin O’Kelly.
Referring to a number of decisions 22 of the European Court of Human Rights, 23 the
Supreme Court ruled that journalistic privilege exists in Ireland and there must be an
overriding requirement in the public interest to justify the interference with the privilege.
- Specific positive content obligations
No provision regarding specific positive content obligations are here to mention.
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
The creation of the Broadcasting Fund was one of the innovations of the 2009
Broadcasting Act. It is funded by up to 7% of the net receipts from the payment of TV
licences. Its purpose is to offer an independent source of funding for high-quality original
or public service programming. There are detailed rules specifying which programmes
qualify for funding.
In addition, the Broadcasting Act 2009 directs the BAI to develop a scheme for the
archiving of programme material. The aim of the Broadcast Archiving Scheme is to
21
22
23
Corway v Independent Newspapers (1999).
I.a. Fressoz and Roire v France (1999) 31 EHRR 28; Goodwin v United Kingdom (1996) EHRR 123.
The European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003 incorporated the European Convention on Human
Rights into Irish law. The Act provides in Section 2(1) that “In interpreting and applying any statutory
provision or rule of law, a court shall, in so far as is possible, subject to the rules of law relating to such
301
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
encourage and support the development of an archiving culture in the Irish broadcasting
sector as a whole. Early in 2012, the scheme was approved by the Minister for
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The Scheme will be financed through a
percentage of the annual Broadcasting Fund derived from the TV licence fee.
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
Section 41(3) of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 contains a total prohibition of political
advertising, i.e. advertising which is “directed towards a political end or which has any
relation to an industrial dispute”. There is no definition of “political end” in the legislation,
but it is understood to include all advertising that might contain political content (e.g.
promoting or opposing changes in legislation, government policies or policies of
government authorities; influencing a political decision making-process). The ban is
directed at broadcasting only. The Irish courts have refused to hold the ban
unconstitutional on freedom of expression grounds – a position which seems to be at
odds with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. 24 It is important to note
here that party political broadcasts during elections are not affected by the prohibition.
According to the Broadcasting Act, the above requirements do not prevent a broadcaster
from transmitting party political broadcasts provided that a broadcaster does not, in the
allocation of time for such broadcasts, give an unfair preference to any political party.
The BAI Code of Referenda and Election Coverage 25 sets out the rules that Irish
broadcasters must comply with when covering any election, including presidential
elections, or referendum held in the Republic of Ireland. The key aim of the Code is that
a broadcaster’s coverage of all elections and referenda is fair, objective and impartial to
all interests. Coverage should be undertaken without any expression of a broadcaster’s
own views on an election or referendum or on election parties or candidates. The Code
contains specific provisions that relate to party political broadcasts and moratoria on
coverage of referenda and/or elections. 26
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The model of press regulation in Ireland is a hybrid one – it combines elements of both
self-regulation (funded by the press industry, here operates a Code of Practice) and
statutory requirements (formally recognised by the Defamation Act 2009, as was
mentioned above).
The 2004 report mentioned that there was no system for dealing with press complaints in
Ireland at the time and the debate was ongoing over the establishment of the Press
Council. Currently, in addition to the general laws on defamation and privacy, the press
in Ireland is also regulated by the Press Council and Press Ombudsman, both operating
since 1 January 2008. The Press Council consists of 13 members – 7 members, including
the Chairman, are drawn from “suitably qualified persons representative of a broad
spectrum of Irish society”, and 6 members are appointed from within the industry.
A complaint to the Ombudsman can be made against any newspaper which is covered by
the Code of Practice by the individual who is personally affected by the impugned
publication, or by a third party acting with the written consent of the person affected. In
the first instance the complainant is directed to contact the editor before making a
24
25
26
interpretation and application, do so in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the
Convention provisions.”
See VgT Verein Gegen Tierfabriken v Switzerland (Tierfabriken I), (2002).
BAI Code of Referenda and Election Coverage:
http://www.bai.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/20110913_RefElecCode_Eng.pdf.
See http://www.bai.ie/?page_id=1955.
302
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
complaint to the Ombudsman. Decisions of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the
Press Council.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
BAI is the regulatory authority which publishes and oversees the compliance with the
Codes it has issued.
 Distribution Aspects
- Access to frequencies
Under Section 35 of the Communications Regulation Act, 2002, the Commission for
Communications Regulation (ComReg) is responsible for formulating, revising,
implementing and publishing the national Radio Frequency Plan detailing the frequency
allocations of Ireland. ComReg publishes a table of frequency allocations for Ireland
every two to three years, describing current and planned use of the radio spectrum. 27
- Access to distribution networks and control of actual conditions
There are no specific provisions with respect to these aspects.
- Must-carry/must-offer rules for electronic media
Section 77 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 provides that holders of broadcast licences are
required to carry programme content regarded as serving a particular policy interest
(mainly the PSB channels – RTÉ 1 and 2, TG4; digital providers must in addition carry
the the Oireachtas channel and the Irish Film Channel). This obligation applies to
“appropriate network providers” 28 (most providers of broadcast services in Ireland).
- Role of platform operators
The structure of the 2009 Act sees the platform as being ‘divided’ between various
multiplex operators – public service broadcaster RTÉ on the one hand and one or more
BAI-licensed contractors on the other.
ComReg issued two DTT multiplex licences to RTÉ, one in December 2007, the other in
May 2011, which conveys the rights of use to spectrum in the ultra high frequency (UHF)
band to provide DTT.
In May 2011, the Irish public service DTT multiplex service called SAORVIEW 29 was
officially launched. It currently offers 9 channels. It is anticipated that by October 2012
SAORVIEW will be accessible to 98% of Irish people, replicating the population coverage
of the old analogue service. The service requires a set-top-box and some viewers will
also have to purchase new aerials. As of February 2012, it has been reported that only
45,000 people have subscribed to Saorview. 30
27
28
29
30
ComReg, Radio Frequency Plan for Ireland,
http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComReg0890R3.pdf.
“Appropriate network” is defined as an electronic communications network which is used for the
distribution or transmission of broadcasting services to the public.
http://www.saorview.ie/.
http://www.herald.ie/news/hd-tv-costs-1400-a-viewer-3009443.html.
303
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Commercial DTT multiplex licence has not yet been awarded. In August 2010, the BAI
gave further detailed consideration to the prospects for commercial DTT in Ireland. 31 It
reiterated its disappointment that, having discharged its responsibilities under the 2009
Act, the outcome was that none of the three applicants had been able to bring matters to
a satisfactory conclusion. It also decided that it would not be practicable to re-activate a
commercial DTT multiplex licensing process in the immediate future. It further stated
that a competition could potentially be held again during 2012 with a view to commercial
DTT being operational in 2013. Nothing happened on that front yet.
Digital Radio using T-DAB technology is also available in Ireland today, provided by RTÉ.
ComReg issued one digital radio multiplex licence to RTÉ in April 2009.
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
ComReg issues multiplex licenses affording the rights of use to spectrum in the ultra high
frequency (UHF) band to provide DTT and BAI.
The Broadcasting Act, 2009 gives the BAI responsibility for licensing DTT multiplex
operators. The aim is to ensure the continued availability of a diversity of services and
programming content in a digital era. BAI also has responsibility for the licensing of
multiplex services and entering into contracts in respect of electronic programme guides
(EPGs).
 Access to Information
- Transparency of media ownership situations
All commercial broadcasters licensed by BAI are listed on the Authority’s website with
links to their individual websites. 32
- Accountability of public service media
In order to demonstrate how they fulfilled their tasks and to show their actual
performance in the preceding year, both PSBs are required to submit a report to the
Authority and the Minister detailing how it has performed against the commitments set in
the previous year and to provide an explanation of any differences arising.
- Freedom of information laws
The Freedom of Information Act 1997 33 was introduced to ensure more openness of
governmental and state bodies regarding access to information. However, the Freedom
of Information (Amendment) Act in July 2003 introduced financial charges for access to
information/documents etc. It also excluded certain records from the application of Act
which were previously available. The change has been criticised by many (including
national journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, civil liberties groups and
many politicians) as undermining openness and transparency.
- Accessibility of products/services and distribution networks
The Act 2009 requires the BAI to administer and report on the Access Rules, requiring
broadcasters to meet specific quotas for subtitling, audio description and Irish Sign
31
32
33
BAI Statement on Conclusion of Commercial DTT Multiplex Licensing Process, http://www.bai.ie/?p=1469.
http://www.bai.ie/?page_id=895.
Freedom of Information Act, 1997, http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/1997/en.act.1997.0013.pdf.
304
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Language, expressed as percentages of total broadcast time. Accordingly, the BAI
published the Access Rules 34 which determine the levels of subtitling, sign language and
audio description that broadcasters in Ireland will be required to provide in accordance
with their statutory obligations.
In addition, the Disability Act 2005 requires all public bodies (e.g. RTÉ) to ensure that
their services are accessible for people with disabilities by providing integrated access to
mainstream services where practicable and appropriate.
With regard to Saorview (DTT), the issues of dish install or digital set-top-box subsidies
have not been decided yet.
 “Have a Say on ...”
- Complaint procedures, “Ombudsmen”
Section 48 provides for a broader complaint system whereby complaints may be made by
parties who were not directly referred to or implicated by the broadcast in question. The
system puts initial responsibility on broadcasters – complaint must first be made directly
to the broadcaster. Only in the second instance, the complaints are dealt with by the
BAI’s Compliance Committee.
- Participation in media operators/(self-)regulatory bodies
There is no such participation to be mentioned.
15.2.
Main Players in the Media Landscape
Ireland’s media landscape remains influenced by historical and geographical relations
with the United Kingdom. British terrestrial television channels are available to majority
of the population, mainly through cable services. There are also a wide range of UK
based newspapers available in Ireland.
15.2.1.
Radio
Radio is a more popular medium in Ireland than in most European countries with 85% of
the population claiming to listen on a daily basis. 35 As of 2012 there are 57 licensed
commercial radio stations, 1 national, 1 quasi-national and the rest local, regional or
multi-city. The national Public Service Broadcaster RTÉ runs four analogue channels RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2fm, RTÉ lyric fm and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta (the Irish
language station) and five digital channels (RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Chill, RTÉ Choice, RTÉ Gold,
RTÉjr and RTÉ Pulse)
Since 2007, the one national commercial radio station, Today FM, is 100% owned by the
company Communicorp belonging to businessman Denis O’Brien, which also owns 3 local
radio stations 36 and is the second largest shareholder in the publishing company
Independent News and Media. Following the Competition Authority’s order for
Communicorp to divest itself of Dublin station FM104 (see above at 1.4.3), there have
been no further developments with regard to concentration of, or major cross-regional
ownership in, the local/regional radio sectors. Ulster Television (UTV) owns five Irish local
radio stations. The majority of local radio licenses are owned by local consortia usually
34
35
36
BAI Access Rules,
http://www.bai.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/access_rules_june_07.pdf.
European Journalism Centre, “Media landscape: Ireland”, November 2010.
Newstalk (quasi-national), 98FM (Dublin), Spin (Dublin), Spin South-West.
305
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
consisting of a mixture of individuals, companies, community groups, local Government
and religious groups.
Table 74 IE: Main Radio Companies*
Companies
RTÉ (PSB)
Communicorp
UTV
Main radio
stations
Analogue: Radio 1, 2
FM, Lyric FM, RTÉ
Raidió na Gaeltachta
Digital: RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ
Chill, RTÉ Choice, RTÉ
Gold, RTÉjr and RTÉ
Pulse
Today FM
Newstalk
98FM
Spin
Spin South-West
Q102 (Dublin)
FM104 (Dublin)
96FM (Cork)
Live 95FM (Limerick)
National market
share
Regional market
share
39%
__
21%
(Today FM – 13%
Newstalk – 8%)
__
Others
(local consortia)
Dublin: 27%
(98FM:
13%,
14%)
Spin South-West: 19%
Dublin: 33%
(Q102: 13%, FM104:
20%)
Cork: 48%
Limerick: 48%
Louth-Meath: 24%
40%
* Figures by JNLR/Ipsos MRBI 2011-3 (October 2010 - September
http://www.medialive2.com/radio/radio-listenership/market-share/radiolistenership/market-share.html
15.2.2.
Spin:
2011),
Television
The Public Service Broadcaster RTÉ provides two channels (and co-operates with the
Irish language PSB, TG4). Ireland has one commercial broadcaster TV3 which is operated
by the TV3 group owned by Tullamore Beta Limited, a subsidiary of a British private
equity fund Doughty Hanson & Co.
Bearing in mind the European Commission’s digital switchover deadline of 2012, in 2007
the public service broadcaster RTÉ was awarded the automatic DTT multiplex licence. As
already explained, in May 2011, the Irish DTT service called SAORVIEW 37 was officially
launched. It currently offers 9 channels. It is anticipated that by October 2012
SAORVIEW will be accessible to 98% of Irish people, replicating the population coverage
of the old analogue service. The service requires a set-top-box and some viewers will
also have to purchase new aerials. The issue of subsidies is not decided yet, the
Government is to commission a study. As of February 2012, it has been reported that
only 45,000 people have subscribed to Saorview. 38 Commercial DTT multiplex licence has
not yet been awarded.
37
38
http://www.saorview.ie/.
http://www.herald.ie/news/hd-tv-costs-1400-a-viewer-3009443.html.
306
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 75 IE: Main Television Companies
Ownership
Structure
Companies
RTÉ
TG4
PSB
PSB
TV3
Tullamore
Limited
BBC (UK)
PSB (UK)
Others
(UK commercial and
other)
Total market
share*
Main TV stations
Beta
RTÉ 1, RTÉ 2
TG4
33.5%
2.2%
TV3
3e
12.9%
1.3%
BBC1, BBC2
7%
UTV, Channel4, E4,
Sky1, Sky News,
Sky Sports, other
* 2011 figures by AC Nielsen, http://www.medialive2.com/television/channel-share-ofviewing/channel-share-of-viewing.html
15.2.3.
Press and publishing
The Irish press market is divided into two segments: national (daily and Sunday
newspapers) and regional (weekly newspapers). There are four national dailies, one
national evening newspaper, four national Sunday newspapers, as well as over fifty
regional and local newspapers. Total circulation of daily national newspapers is over
550,000 (Jan-Jun 2011).
One of the major daily papers, the Irish Times, is owned by the Irish Times Trust, a nonprofit fund.
Three daily newspapers (Irish Independent, Evening Herald and Irish Daily Star), as well
as two Sunday newspapers (Sunday Independent and Sunday World) and 13 weekly
regional papers are owned by Independent News and Media (INM), the leading
newspaper publisher in Ireland. The INM’s papers are market leaders in their sectors.
Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd owns the national daily Irish Examiner and the national
Sunday newspaper Sunday Business Post. It also has eleven regional newspapers and
five regional radio stations.
The strength of the British press in Ireland is a unique feature of the Irish print media
scene.
307
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Table 76 IE: Main Newspaper Publishing Companies
Publishing
companies
Main
titles
national Daily
and Evening
Independent
News
and
Media
Irish
Independent
Irish Daily Star
Evening Herald
Irish Times
Irish Times
Trust
Thomas
Crosbie
Holdings
UK
titles
The
Examiner
Market
share*
47%
16%
Irish
7%
Main
titles
national Sunday
Market
share*
Sunday
Independent
Sunday World
57%
Sunday Times
13%
Sunday
Post
based
Regional
13 titles
Business
6%
11 titles
20% +
30%
*
Jan-Jun
2011
figures
by
ABC,
http://www.medialive2.com/press/nationalpress/circulation-review-july---december-2006.html
15.2.4.
Online media (non-linear audiovisual (media) services; websites)
The two most popular online services: www.rte.ie and www.irishtimes.com are provided
by the traditional media providers RTÉ (PSB) and the Irish Times (newspaper publisher).
Daft.ie website is dominant in property classified ads and CarZone.ie dominates motoring
classified. There are also some niche competitors present (Politics.ie; Beaut.ie;
Askaboutmoney.com). There are two interesting news websites: TheJournal.ie and
Storyful.com. TheJournal.ie is an Irish news website that invites its users to shape the
news agenda, and Storyful.com is a project founded and run by RTÉ journalist Mark Little
and a team of other web journalists.
15.2.5.
Cable/Satellite network operators, IPTV & Internet Access Providers
BSkyB, through Sky Digital, remains the sole provider of digital satellite television
services in Ireland. In comparison to the situation described in the 2004 Report, it noted
a dramatic increase in the number of subscribers (from 245, 000 to 675,000).
The Irish cable market has been fundamentally restructured since 2004. Ireland used to
have two main cable operators: NTL (Éire), and Chorus Communications (owned by
Liberty Global). In 2005 NTL was fully taken over by Liberty Global. The sole cable
provider in Ireland has been renamed UPC Ireland and is owned by Liberty Global Europe
operating through UPC broadband. As of 2011, it had 473,000 subscribers to its cable tv
service in Ireland.
308
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
Table 77 IE: Cable and Satellite Companies
Companies
Ownership Structure
Subscription 2011
UPC Ireland
(formerly Chorus + NTL)
(Cable and MMDS)
Liberty Global Europe
operating through
UPC broadband
(100%)
473,000*
(328,000 digital subscribers)
BSkyB
(Satellite)
News Corporation
(39.1%)
675,000**
* http://www.lgi.com/europe-ireland.html.
** http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/0204/1224311249262.html.
15.2.6.
Audience/Readership/Usage/Subscription; Advertising market shares (all
media)
The most important fact to note here is that the share of advertising revenue is shifting
from traditional to online media. 39 Online advertising is now the third-largest advertising
medium in Ireland, after press and television, but before radio. 40
The table below outlines the share of advertising revenue in the Irish media sector.
Table 78 IE: Share of advertising revenue within the media sector 2010-2011
Media
Market share in approx. %
Press
57% *
Television
23% *
Online
13% **
Radio
7% *
* Source: Ad Dynamix Nielsen Media Research 2010 (www.medialive.ie)
** Source: IAB/PwC Online Adspend Study,
content/uploads/2010/11/H1-2010-IAB-PWC-PDF.pdf)
39
40
2010
(http://iabireland.ie/wp-
RTE background document, “Digital advertising and its impact on traditional publishers”, November 2010.
IAB/PwC Online Adspend Study, 2010 (http://iabireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/H1-2010-IABPWC-PDF.pdf.
309
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
15.3.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Main changes in comparison to the 2004 Report:
 Adoption of the Broadcasting Act, 2009
 Adoption of the Defamation Act, 2009
 Introduction of the new offence of blasphemy by the Defamation Act 2009
 Recognition by the Supreme Court of the existence of the journalistic privilege
(2009)
 Launch of DTT in May 2011
 Ongoing reform of the media mergers review system
 Number of cable providers falling from two to one (as a result of merger between
Chorus and NTL)
 Share of advertising revenue shifting from traditional to online media
The introduction of the offence of blasphemy by Section 36 of the Defamation Act, 2009
has been highly controversial and met with widespread protest. Already in 1991 the Law
Reform Commission, opined that there is no place for the offence of blasphemous libel in
a society which respects freedom of speech, and that the prohibition of Incitement to
Hatred Act 1989 provides an adequate protection for outrage against religious belief. 41
However, since the ban on blasphemy is mandated by the Constitution, abolishing the
offence would require a referendum (the Irish Constitution may only be changed
following a referendum). In the Commission’s opinion a referendum solely for that
purpose would be a time wasting and expensive exercise. In the 2008 Report on Article
40.6.1(i) the parliamentary Joint Committee on the Constitution reiterated that “…(t)he
specific reference to blasphemy should be deleted from the Constitution. The reference
itself has effectively been rendered a “dead letter” and that [In] a modern Constitution,
blasphemy is not a phenomenon against which there should be an express constitutional
prohibition.” There have been several referenda held in Ireland in recent years, and
despite declarations by the government, none of them included the proposal to remove
the reference to blasphemy from the Constitution.
Recommendation: The government should consider removing the reference to blasphemy
from the Constitution and the offence of blasphemy from the Defamation Act, 2009. A
referendum to this end should be held at the nearest possible occasion.
Independent News and Media is dominant in both the daily and Sunday newspaper
market segments in Ireland, where it has a 47% and 57% market share respectively.
Nevertheless, the Competition Authority concluded that the Irish newspaper industry has
sufficient editorial diversity and, thus, media pluralism is not threatened. However, while
it may be true that there is a large degree of editorial diversity, such dominance in any
media market is always a threat to media pluralism. There is also a problem with the
cross-ownership of newspapers and radio stations involving the company Communicorp.
On 7 February 2012, an Irish MEP Nessa Childers hosted a conference in Dublin entitled
“Media Diversity: Why does it matter?”. In preparation for the conference, Nessa Childers
41
Consultation Paper and Report on Criminal Libel (1991).
310
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
commissioned a survey of Irish journalists on media ownership and diversity. The survey,
carried out in conjunction with the National Union of Journalists, revealed that 77% of
Irish journalists believe that media diversity is at risk in Ireland due to trends in media
ownership. 42
Recommendation: The situation with regard to media ownership and diversity should be
continuosly monitored. In particular, the issue of ‘cross-ownership’ between Coomunicorp
and INM should again be carefully considered after the recent escalation in the battle for
control of INM.
The Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, spoke at the conference and confirmed
that the government is working on the drafting of a new legislation on media mergers
based on the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Media Mergers. The
government expects to publish the draft in the coming months.
Recommendation: The works on the new legislation on media mergers should not be
delayed. The failure to fast-track the legislation so that the rules on media mergers were
adopted before the summer 2012 was disappointing. The new legislation should be
introduced before the end of the year without any delay.
42
2012 Survey of Irish journalists on media ownership and diversity,
http://www.nessachilders.ie/download/nessachilders/pdf/2012_survey_of_irish_journalists_on_media_ow
nership_and_diversity_nessa_childers_mep.pdf.
311
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
16.
ITALY
16.1.
Human
Rights/Fundamental
Guarantees,
Legislation/Regulation, Codes of Conduct/Practice
16.1.1.
Human rights/Fundamental freedoms
 Freedom of expression/Freedom of the media
The freedom of expression is expressly enshrined in Article 21 of the Italian Constitution.
Article 21 of the Constitution consists of seven paragraphs. The first paragraph contains a
broad statement that everyone has the right to express his or her thoughts through any
media.
In addition, in accordance with Article 117, para. 1, of the Constitution, Italian legislation
must comply with EU Law and international agreements to which Italy is a party: in this
context, particular significance is given to Article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), which also protects the freedom of
expression, and to the interpretation given to this provision by the European Court of
Human Rights (ECtHR) 1.
- Specific safeguards and rights for the media
The paragraphs 2 to 6 of Art. 21 of the Constitution unravel a set of guarantees
protecting the means of communication that, at the time the Constitution was drafted,
appeared as the most relevant one: the press. In particular, the Constitution provides
that press may not be subjected to authorization or censorship; seizure of press is
permitted only for offences expressly set out by the law and on the basis of a reasoned
court order, 2 except in cases of urgency where the timely intervention of the judicial
authority is not possible; the law may establish that the financial sources of the
periodical publications be disclosed. Paragraph 7 of Article 21 sets out the only express
derogation from the freedom of expression affirmed in paragraph 1: public morals.
Printed publications and shows contrary to public morals are prohibited and punished in
accordance with the law.
 Freedom to receive and to access information
The freedom of information is generally understood as having a threefold dimension:
active (the right to inform others), passive (the right to be informed), and reflexive (the
right to gain access to undisclosed information).
Article 21 of the Constitution expressly protects only the active form, i.e. the freedom to
inform others. 3 Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court, 4 following the pattern of Article 10
of the ECHR, has extended the constitutional protection also to the passive and reflexive
dimensions of the freedom of information. Indeed, both the reception of information and
1
2
3
4
R. Mastroianni, Riforma del sistema radiotelevisivo italiano e diritto europeo (Turin: Giappichelli, 2004).
Law no. 47 of 8 February 1948, OJIR no. 43 of 20 February 1948, Serie generale.
See G. Gardini, Le Regole dell’Informazione. Principi giuridici, strumenti, casi, (Milan: Bruno Mondadori,
2009) 34.
Constitutional Court, Judgment no. 25 of 1965; no. 18 of 1966; no. 122 of 1970; no. 175 of 1971; no.
105 of 1972; no. 113 of. 1974; no. 16 of 1981; no. 18 of 1981; no. 225 of 1975; no. 231 of. 1975; no.
826 of 1988; No 420 of 1994; no. 112 of 1993; no. 466 of 2002.
312
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
access to information are essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society and
for the development of an open political debate.
The Constitutional Court has consistently held that freedom of expression seeks to
protect the free flow of information and the pluralism of opinions because they are
essential elements for the proper functioning of a democratic polity. 5 With specific
reference to the press, the Court of Cassation has ruled that it constitutes a privileged
forum for the involvement of the public opinion in the political debate taking place within
elected bodies. 6 Recalling the ECtHR jurisprudence, 7 the Court of Cassation added that
newspapers must be regarded as the ‘watchdogs’ of democratic institutions, including the
judiciary 8. The Court of Cassation also held that the exercise of the right to report and to
comment by journalists is to be welcomed insofar as it contributes to monitor the
administration of justice and to ensure that members of the judiciary do not overstep the
bounds of their profession. 9
- Specific rights for the citizens
The protection of freedom of expression as laid down in Article 21(1) of the Constitution
directly concerns citizens, as do most of the other articles comprised in Part I of the
Italian Constitution (e.g. relating to freedom of assembly, of religion, of movement etc.),
whose heading is, emblematically, “Rights and duties of citizens”. In this connection,
regard must be had also to Article 15 of the Constitution, which directly protects the
freedom and confidentiality of private correspondence. Indeed, according to the second
paragraph of Article 15, freedom of correspondence can be constrained only in
accordance with the law and on the basis of a reasoned decision of a judicial body.
 Safeguards on regulatory authorities
The Italian media regulatory authority (AGCOM) was established in 1997, forty years
after the promulgation of the Italian constitution. It is thus no wonder that the latter
does not envisage such an authority. Generally speaking, independent authorities were
not part of the original design of the Drafters of the Italian Constitution. Most of those
authorities were established in the 1990s, in the context of the EU-driven liberalization
and re-regulation of public utilities.
The Constitution, however, does take into account the role of public powers vis-à-vis the
freedom of expression by stating that: i) the executive must not interfere with the
freedom of expression (e.g. prior authorization schemes are banned); ii) the legislature
must lay down a general legal framework to strike a balance between freedom of
expression and conflicting constitutional concerns (e.g. public security, public morals
etc.); and iii) only the judiciary may impinge upon the freedom of expression in
individual cases, provided that it does so in accordance with the law and by way of
reasoned decisions that can be challenged before a higher court.
5
6
7
8
9
Italian Constitutional Court (‘ICC’), judgement no. 1030 of 1988; Constitutional Court, judgement no. 81
of 1993.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment of 2 July 2007, no. 25138.
See ECtHR, Kobenter and Standard Verlags Gmbh v. Austria, application no. 60899/00, paras 29 and 30.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment of 9 February 2011, no. 15447.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment of 23 January 1984 no. 3743 and Judgment of 21 February 2007 no.
25138.
313
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
 Safeguards on “universal service”
The notion of “Universal Service” is alien to the Italian public service tradition and was
only introduced as a consequence of Italy’s membership in the EU. However, it is
inherent in the Italian notion of “servizio pubblico” that operators entrusted with the
provision thereof may be required to carry out specific task in the general interest which
they would not perform, or would perform under different conditions, were they
motivated exclusively by market considerations. Moreover, as per Article 117, paragraph
2, letter m) of the Constitution, the central Government enjoys an exclusive competence
to set the essential content of civil and social rights whose enjoyment must be ensured
throughout the national territory.
As far as media is concerned, the concept of universal service can be regarded as a
subset of that of public service media (or public service broadcasting), which is not
expressly set out in the Constitution, but has been introduced and developed through
legislation.
16.1.2.
Media order (de lege lata and de facto)
 “Market Entry”
- Licensing schemes; remit psm; notification for print publications
As far as entry to the analogue broadcasting market is concerned, in view of the trend
towards the switch-over to the digital standard, analogue broadcasting can only be
exercised on the basis of concessions issued under the past regulatory framework. The
validity of those concessions is extended until the completion of the switch-over process
(end of 2012). 10 Moreover, operators engaging in analogue broadcasting without a
broadcasting concession but in line with certain legal requirements may continue to do so
until the completion of the transition to the digital standard. 11
In this connection, it must be noted that the de facto exercise of broadcasting activities
and the occupation of broadcasting frequencies by unlicensed operators has been
tolerated by Italian broadcasting legislation in the past. 12 Notably, in 2008 the ECJ
established that failure by the Italian government to free up broadcasting frequencies
and to allocate them to the legitimate right holder, the company Centro Europa 7, on the
basis of objective, transparent, non-discriminatory, and proportionate criteria was at
odds with the freedom to provide services and the EU electronic communications
directives. 13 Most recently, also the European Court of Human rights held that failure by
the Italian government to allocate broadcasting frequencies to the holder of a
broadcasting licence obtained following a public tender constituted a breach of that
company’s freedom of expression and information (Article 10 ECHR) and right of property
10
11
12
13
Article 23, para 1, CLARMS.
Article 23, para 2, CLARMS.
For instance, the Maccanico Law enabled the ‘de facto users’ of radio frequencies, authorised to carry on
their activity under the earlier system, to continue broadcasting on a transitional basis; Decree Law 24
December 2003, no. 352 (OJIR 29 December 2003, no. 29, p. 4) authorised the channels in breach of the
concentration thresholds to continue their broadcasts pending the completion of an inquiry into the
development of digital television channels; the Gasparri Law extended, by a general authorisation
mechanism, the possibility for the channels in breach of the threshold to continue to broadcast on the
terrestrial radio frequencies until the national allocation plan for radio frequencies for digital television was
implemented.
ECJ, Judgment of 31 January 2008, Centro Europa 7 Srl v Ministero delle Comunicazioni e Autorità per le
garanzie nelle comunicazioni and Direzione generale per le concessioni e le autorizzazioni del Ministero
delle Comunicazioni, Case C-380/05, ECR 2008 Page I-00349.
314
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
(Article 1 of Protocol n. 1 to the ECHR). 14 In particular, the Strasbourg Court found that
the relevant Italian broadcasting legislation lacked clarity and precision, in that it
frustrated Centro Europa 7’s legitimate expectations, and that the Italian authorities had
failed to put in place an appropriate legislative and administrative framework
guaranteeing effective media pluralism and protecting Centro Europa 7 against
arbirariness.
Turning to access to the digital broadcasting market, the CLARMS 15 provides for different
authorization schemes. The activity of linear audiovisual content provider on terrestrial
frequencies is conditional upon a prior authorization issued by the Ministry for Economic
Development, 16 on the basis of the rules set out in AGCom’s Digital Broadcasting
Regulation. 17
To be eligible, applicants must: i) be undertakings established in the European Economic
Area or in a state ensuring full reciprocity; 18 ii) have as their object the exercise of
television broadcasting, information, or related activities; iii) have a share capital and a
number employees greater than the minimum requirements set out in the Digital
Broadcasting Regulation; 19 iv) ensure the broadcasting of programmes bearing the same
trademark for at least 24 hours every week. Public entities, state-controlled companies,
and credit institutions cannot either directly or indirectly hold the authorization
concerned. 20
The provision of linear audiovisual media or radio services through other electronic
communication networks (e.g. live streaming, IPTV, web-tv etc.) is subject to an
authorization granted by AGCom in accordance with the rules set out in its Decision no.
606/10/CONS. 21 To be eligible, applicants must: i) be companies, foundations, or
associations established in the European Economic Area or in a state ensuring full
reciprocity; 22 ii) have as their objects the exercise of broadcasting, information, or
related activities; 23 iii) not be represented or administered by persons convicted for
crimes punishable by imprisonment of more than six months. 24 Public entities, statecontrolled companies, and credit institutions cannot directly or indirectly hold the
authorization concerned. 25 Applicants must pay a fee for the processing of their
application. 26
On-demand service providers are also subject to the general authorization scheme 27. The
undertakings concerned must notify AGCom of the start of their activities, unless AGCom
resolves, within 30 days, to enjoin them to stop 28. To be eligible, applicants must: i) be
companies, foundations, and associations established in the European Economic Area or
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
ECtHR, case Centro Europa 7 S.r.l. and Di Stefano v. Italy (application no. 38433/09).
Consolidated Law on Audiovisual and Radio Media Services (Legislative Decree no. 2005/177 as amended
by Legislative Decree no. 44/2010).
Article 16, para 1, CLARMS.
See AGCom Decision 353/11/CONS, OJIR 6 July 2011, no.155 (AGCom Digital Broadcasting Regulation).
Ibid, Article 3, para 2.
Ibid., Article 3, paras. 4 and 5 (requiring a share capital of 6.2 million euros and at least 20 employees for
nation-wide broadcasting and a share capital of 155.000 euros and at least four employees for local
broadcasting).
Ibid., Article 3, para 3.
See Attachment A to AGCom Decision no. 606/10/CONS.
Ibid., Article 3, para 2.
Ibid., Article 3, para 4.
Ibid., Article 3, para 3.
Ibid, Article 3, para 4.
Ibid., Article 6.
Article 22-bis, para 1 CLARMS.
Article 3, para 2, of Attachment A to AGCom Decision no. 607/10/CONS, OJIR 3 January 2011, no. 1.
315
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
in a state ensuring full reciprocity; 29 ii) have as their objects the exercise of
broadcasting, information, or related activities; 30 iii) not be represented or administered
by persons convicted for intentional crimes punishable by imprisonment of more than six
months. 31 Applicants must pay a fee for the processing of their application. 32
Article 49, paragraph 1, CLARMS 33 entrusts the operation of PSM to RAI-Radiotelevisione
Italiana S.p.A. (hereafter: RAI) until 6 May 2016. The entrustment of PSM to RAI was not
carried out, as generally required by the EU regulations on public procurement, through a
public tender 34, but rather through a direct conferral of the PSM tasks to Italy’s former
broadcasting monopolist, RAI.
As requirements for the PSM remit, CLARMS includes: the transmission of programmes of
general interest on the whole national territory; an appropriate number of hours, also
during prime time, devoted to education, information, cultural promotion through
cinema, theatre and musical works; access to programming to political parties, trade
unions, religious groups and other associations of social interest; programming destined
to be broadcast abroad to promote the knowledge of Italian language and culture;
protection of historical archives of radio and television programs; broadcasting in
minority languages; measures to protect disabled people; long-distance teaching;
interactive digital services.
As far as press is concerned, Article 5 of Law no. 47/1948 requires all newspapers and
periodicals to register with the Court Registry of the place where the newspaper or
periodical is going to be published.
The application for registration must include the following documents:
1)
a statement, authenticated by the signatures of the owner and the director or deputy
managing director, stating the name and domicile of he person who exercises the
journalistic enterprise, if that person is different from the owner, and the title and
the nature of the publication;
2)
proof of enrollment in the Journalists' Roll, in cases where this is required by the
Journalist Profession Law;
3)
copy of the articles of association and of the company’s statute, if the owner is a
company.
The president of the Court or a judge delegated by him or her, checks compliance with
the above requirements and orders, within fifteen days, the registration of the newspaper
or magazine in a public Register.
29
30
31
32
33
34
Ibid., Article 3, para 3.
Ibid., Article 3, para 4.
Ibid., Article 3, para 5.
Ibid., Article 6.
Consolidated Law on Audiovisual and Radio Media Services (Legislative Decree no. 2005/177 as amended
by Legislative Decree no. 44/2010).
But see Judgment of the Court of First Instance of 26 June 2008, SIC – Sociedade Independente de
Comunicação, SA v Commission of the European Communities Case T-442/03 [2008] ECR II-01161
(holding that Portuguese Republic was ‘in no way’ required to organise a competitive tendering prior to
entrusting PSM tasks to RTP). On the necessity of awarding PSM obligations on the basis of competitive
tendering, See R. Mastroianni, Public Service Media and Market Integration: A Differential Application of
Free Movement and State Aid Rules? in M. Cremona (ed), Market Integration and Public Services within
the EU (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) 167-169.
316
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- Media pluralism/ownership; competition law aspects
The concentration of media ownership in Italy has traditionally been a sensitive issue, as
summarised by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in its Resolution 1387
(2004) on monopolisation of the electronic media and possible abuse of power in Italy:
“Through Mediaset, Italy’s main commercial communications and broadcasting group,
and one of the largest in the world, Mr Berlusconi owns approximately half of the
nationwide broadcasting in the country. His role as head of government also puts him
in a position to influence indirectly the public broadcasting organisation, RAI, which is
Mediaset’s main competitor. As Mediaset and RAI command together about 90% of
the television audience and over three quarters of the resources in this sector, Mr
Berlusconi exercises unprecedented control over the most powerful media in Italy.
This duopoly in the television market is in itself an anomaly from an antitrust
perspective. The status quo has been preserved even though legal provisions
affecting media pluralism have twice been declared anti-constitutional and the
competent authorities have established the dominant positions of RAI and the three
television channels of Mediaset. An illustration of this situation was a recent decree of
the Prime Minister, approved by parliament, which allowed the third channel of RAI
and Mediaset’s Retequattro to continue their operations in violation of the existing
antitrust limits until the adoption of new legislation. Competition in the media sector
is further distorted by the fact that the advertising company of Mediaset,
Publitalia ’80, has a dominant position in television advertising.”
At the moment, the CLARMS lays down both “technical” and “economic” anticoncentration limits for the media sector. The former limit applies to the number of
channels broadcast by the same subject. In particular, the CLARMS provides that, once
the digital switchover process is complete, no content provider will be allowed to
broadcast more than 20 percent of the total television channels and more than 20
percent of the total radio channels. 35 Pending the completion of that process, content
providers cannot broadcast more than 20 percent of television broadcasts conveyed on
analogue or digital networks, excluding simulcasts of analogue programmes and digital
broadcasts accessible to less than 50 percent of Italian viewers. 36
Both institutional actors and academic commentators have expressed concerns about the
technical limit applicable prior to the completion of the digital switchover, in that it
replaced an earlier limit of 20 percent applicable to analogue broadcasting only. By
taking into account both analogue and digital broadcasting, the technical limit set out in
the CLARMS, in fact, allows existing dominant operators in the analogue sector to
consolidate their dominance also in the digital sector. 37 The Venice Commission, in
particular, considered that the threshold of 20% of the channels was “not a clear
35
36
37
Article 43, para 7, CLARMS.
Article 43, para 8, CLARMS.
See Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1387 (2004) on monopolisation of the
electronic media and possible abuse of power in Italy, para 6: ”The Assembly believes that the newlyadopted ‘Gasparri Law’ on the reform of the broadcasting sector may not effectively guarantee greater
pluralism simply through the multiplication of television channels in the course of digitalisation. At the
same time, it manifestly allows Mediaset to expand even further, as it gives the market players the
possibility to have a monopoly in a given sector without ever reaching the antitrust limit in the overall
integrated system of communications (SIC).” R. Zaccaria and A. Valastro, Diritto dell’informazionae e della
comunicazione (Padua: Cedam, 2010) 558-559.
317
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
indicator of market share” and argued that it should be combined “with an audience
share indicator”. 38
Turning to “economic” media anti-concentration, regard must be had, first and foremost,
to the notion of Integrated Communications System (hereafter: ICS) laid down in Article
43 CLARMS. The ICS is a statute-defined relevant market encompassing the following
activities: newspapers and magazines, yearly and electronic publishing; radio and
audiovisual media services, cinema, outdoor advertising, communication initiatives for
products and services, and sponsorships. 39
The CLARMS prohibits holding a dominant position in the ICS and in its constituent
submarkets. 40 Moreover, the CLARMS stipulates that no communication operator may,
either directly or through controlled or connected companies, achieve revenues in excess
of 20 percent of the total ICS revenues. 41 Such revenues include inter alia those derived
from the sale of daily newspapers and periodicals, from online publishing, from
advertising, teleshopping, sponsorships etc. 42 The 20 percent limit is reduced to 10
percent for companies achieving more than 40 percent of the overall revenues of the
electronic communications sector. 43
As far as the press sector is concerned, Law no. 416/81, as amended by Law no. 67/87,
sets out a ban on the holding of a dominant position in the daily newspaper publishing
market. 44 For the purpose of that ban, the notion of dominant position is defined by
reference to the share of the total circulation of daily newspapers in Italy or one of the
four inter-regional areas defined by the law. 45 Transactions leading to the creation of a
dominant position are null and void 46 and can result in the compulsory sale of shares or
newspapers so as to eliminate the dominant position. 47
Moreover, the CLARMS also precludes companies engaging in nation-wide broadcasting
or electronic communications exceeding certain revenue thresholds from acquiring stakes
or participating in the establishment of publishers of daily newspapers (with the
exception of daily newspapers issued only in electronic form) before 31 December
2012. 48 The relevant revenue thresholds are 8 percent of the overall ICS for broadcasting
companies and 40 percent of the revenues in the electronic communications sector for
electronic communications companies. 49
Also advertising in the daily newspaper publishing sector is subject to specific
restrictions. Law no. 416/1981 stipulates that no advertising agency can enter into
exclusive dealing arrangements with a number of daily newspapers whose combined
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
Opinion of the Venice Commission, adopted at its 63rd Plenary Session (10-11 June 2005), on the
compatibility of the “Gasparri” and “Frattini” laws of Italy with the Council of Europe standards in the field
of freedom of expression and pluralism of the media.
Art. 2 para. 1, lett. l) of Legislative Decree no. 177 of 31 July 2005, in GURI n. 208 of 7 September 2005,
Supplemento ordinario n. 150.
Article 43, paras. 2 and 9 CLARMS.
Article 43, para 9, CLARMS.
Art. 43, para 11 of Legislative Decree no. 177 of 31 July 2005, in GURI n. 208 of 7 September 2005,
Supplemento ordinario n. 150.
Article 43, para 11, CLARMS.
Law 5 August 1981, no. 416, OJIR 6 August 1981, no. 215; Law 25 February 1987, no. 67, OJIR 9 March
1987, no. 56.
Ibid., Article 3(1).
Ibid., Article 3(4).
Ibid., Article 3(5)-(6).
Article 43, para 12, CLARMS.
Ibid.
318
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
circulation exceeds 30% of the total nation-wide circulation. 50 The applicable threshold
drops to 20% for advertising agencies having corporate connections with publishers. 51
- Legal framework for psm; ability to fulfill their tasks
The PSM remit is outlined in Articles 45 and 46 CLARMS as a number of minimum
objectives the PSM operator has to meet.
The PSM remit is specified in greater detail in a ‘service contract’ (contratto di servizio)
renewed every three years between the PSM operator and the Ministry of Economic
Development. 52 Prior to each renewal, the Ministry and AGCom jointly issue guidelines
setting out the contents of further PSM obligations to take into account changes in the
market and technological context, as well as in the cultural needs of the national and
local audience. The latest guidelines were adopted on 12 November 2009 53. The service
contract for the years 2010-2012 was signed on 7 April 2011.
The company entrusted with PSM is also allowed to carry out commercial activities other
than its public service remit, provided that these additional activities do not interfere with
its PSM duties and contribute to ensuring a balanced management of the company. 54 To
this end, the CLARMS lays down specific restrictions on advertising on PSM channels.
Indeed, while the PSM operator can schedule advertising for no more than 4% of its
weekly airtime and up to 12% of its hourly airtime, 55 free-to-air commercial broadcasters
are subject to a 18% hourly advertising limit and to a 15% daily advertising limit that
can be extended to 20% if broadcasters schedule advertising types other than spots (e.g.
telepromotion). 56
The PSM operator is financed through a dual-funding system, in that its revenues include
both remuneration for commercial activities (notably the sale of advertising space) and
compulsory licence fees (‘canone di abbonamento’) levied on all owners of television
sets. 57 The amount of the latter is set every year in accordance with a decree issued by
the Minister, as per Article 47, paragraph 3, CLARMS. The licence fee dates back to the
1930s and is still regulated by Royal Legislative Decree no. 246 of 21 February 1938 and
by Legislative Decree no. 458 of 21 December 1944.
The basic rules for the PSM funding are set forth in Article 47 of the CLARMS and include
the principle whereby the licence fee can be employed exclusively to fulfil PSM functions,
not commercial activities. To this end, the CLARMS lays down a separate accounting
requirement: in particular, RAI is required to draw up its balance sheet in accordance
with a prospectus approved by AGCom in its Resolution no. 186/05/CONS. 58
The constitutional justification of the licence fee has been the subject of several recent
rulings by the Constitutional Court. 59 While in the past the licence fee constituted a form
of commercial consideration for the services provided by RAI, nowadays it is regarded as
a purpose tax («imposta di scopo»), whose aim is to allow the PSM public service
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
Law no. 416/81, Article 12(3).
Ibid, Article 12(4).
Article 45, para 1, CLARMS.
AGCom Decision no. 614/09/CONS, OJIR 26 November 2011, no. 276.
Article 45, para 5, CLARMS.
Article 38, para 1 CLARMS.
Article 38, paras. 2 and 3 CLARMS.
See generally C. Schepisi, ‘Televisioni e aiuti di Stato: il finanziamento del servizio radiotelevisivo pubblico
e gli aiuti per il passaggio al digitale terrestre’, AIDA (2010), 48 et seq.
Resolution no. 186/05/CONS, published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic no. 150 of 30 June
2005.
See Constitutional Court, Judgment no. 248 of 2002 and 155 of 2002.
319
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
broadcaster to carry out its remit. Indeed, as the Constitutional Court put it, ‘a system of
funding based exclusively on advertising revenues would force the public service
broadcaster to take account of audience shares and to adapt the quality and breadth of
its programming to that of its competitors.’ 60
Doubts have been expressed in academic circles as to the effectiveness of the current
PSM funding system to fully ensure the independence of the PSM operator from political
and governmental influence. 61 As explained above, the amount of RAI’s mandatory
licence fee is set, every year, by a member of the Government, the Minister of Economic
Development, which must ‘take account of such expenses that the public service
broadcaster is expected to incur in fulfilling the specific general public broadcasting
service obligations for the year in question as can be inferred from the previous budget,
the perspective inflation rate, and the needs of technological development.’ 62
Also relevant to RAI’s ability to fulfil its public service and information tasks are the rules
governing the appointment of its Board of Directors. RAI’s Board of Directors consists of
nine members, seven of which are appointed by the Parliamentary Supervision
Committee, whose membership reflects, in proportion, the political composition of the
Parliament. The other two members of the Board of Directors – one of which is the Chair
of the Board – are appointed directly by the majority shareholder, i.e. the Ministry of
Economy and Finance. The appointment of the Chair, however, becomes effective only
upon approval by the Parliamentary Supervision Committee by a two-thirds majority
vote.
Concerns have been voiced both by scholarly and institutional commentators as to the
ability of RAI’s current governance system to ensure its de facto independence from
political and governmental influence. In particular, the European Parliament, in its
Resolution no. 2003/2237(INI), regretted the “repeated and documented instances of
governmental interference, pressure and censorship in respect of the corporate structure
and schedules (even as regards satirical programmes) of the RAI public television
service, starting with the dismissal of three well-known professionals at the sensational
public request of the President of the Italian Council of Ministers in April 2002 – in a
context in which an absolute majority of the members of the RAI board of governors and
the respective parliamentary control body are members of the governing parties.” 63. The
following year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its Resolution
1387 (2004), underscored that RAI ‘has always been a mirror of the political system of
the country’ and that it ‘has moved from the proportionate representation of the
dominant political ideologies in the past to the-winner-takes-all attitude reflecting the
present political system.’ 64
60
61
62
63
64
Constitutional Court, Judgement no. 284/02.
See R. Mastroianni, Riforma del sistema radiotelevisivo italiano e diritto europeo (Turin: Giappichelli 2004)
83.
See Article 47, para 3, CLARMS.
European Parliament, resolution on the risks of violation, in the EU and especially in Italy, of freedom of
expression and information (Article 11(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights), 2003/2237(INI), OJEU C
104E , 30 April 2004, p. 1026–1040, para 60.
See, Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1387 (2004) on monopolisation of the
electronic media and possible abuse of power in Italy, para 7 (noting that RAI’s situation is “contrary to
the principles of independence laid down in Assembly Recommendation 1641 (2004) on public service
broadcasting”.). See also Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights, Issue Discussion Paper of 6
December 2011 on “Media pluralism and human rights”, para 3.2, (noting that “Italy also has an ongoing
record of control over public service television by political parties and governments.”).
320
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
- The role and functioning of regulatory authorities in these respects
The enforcement of anti-concentration rules is entrusted to AGCom 65. To facilitate
AGCom’s enforcement tasks, all companies active in the ICS are required to notify
agreements and mergers to AGCom. 66 All contracts, mergers and agreements at variance
with the prohibitions set out in Article 43 CLARMS are null and void. 67
AGCom adopts every year a decision setting out an estimate of the overall ICS
revenues. 68 If AGCom establishes a breach of the prohibitions set out in Article 43
CLARMS, it must take appropriate measures to ensure that those breaches are remedied
in a timely fashion. 69
Oversight of the Italian PSM operator is shared between AGCom and the Parliamentary
Supervision Committee (PSC).
The PSC may issue directives to the PSM as to its investment and expenditure plans, its
programme schedule, and its advertising policy, 70 so as to ensure that the PSM operator
conforms to the fundamental principles governing the broadcasting sector, i.e.
independence, objectivity and a pluralistic attitude towards diverse cultural, social and
political views. 71 The PSC also monitors compliance with its own guidelines and directives
by the PSM operator.
AGCom is entrusted with the task of monitoring compliance by the PSM operator with its
public service remit. 72 AGCom may seek information and require disclosure of
documents, consult with experts and carry out searches of business premises. If AGCom
establishes a breach by the PSM operator of its remit, it may enjoin the company to
rectify its conduct and may also impose, if need be, a fine up to 3 percent of the PSM
operator’s turnover. If the PSM operator fails to comply with the above injunction,
AGCom may impose an additional fine and, in the most egregious cases, may order the
suspension of all broadcasting activities up to ninety days.
The PSC consists of twenty Members of the House of Representatives and twenty
Senators appointed by the Chairs of both the Houses on the basis of the parliamentary
groups’ designations. 73 Accordingly, the PSC tends to reflect, in proportion, the balances
between political parties represented in the Parliament.
AGCom consists of four different bodies: the President, the Council, the Commission for
Services and Products (hereafter: CSP) and the Commission for Infrastructures and
Networks (hereafter: CIN). The Council is composed of the President and eight
Commissioners (also known as AGCom ‘Members’); the CSP and the CIN are each
composed by the President and four Commissioners. The President is designated by the
Italian Prime Minister, upon agreement with the Minister for Economic Development. The
appointment of AGCom’s President takes the form of a decree of the President of the
Republic, which requires approval by a two-thirds majority by the relevant parliamentary
committees. The President’s term of office is seven years. He or she cannot be re65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
Art. 43, para 5 of Legislative Decree no. 177 of 2005.
Article 43, para 1 CLARMS.
Art. 43, para 4 of Legislative Decree no. 177 of 2005.
See AGCom Decision no. 126/11/CONS (stating that the overall value of ICS revenues in 2009 was 23
billion euros).
Article 43, para 5, CLARMS.
Article 4 of Law 103 of 1975.
See Articles from 3 to 7 CLARMS.
See Article 48 CLARMS.
Article 1 of Law no. 103 of 1975.
321
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
elected. The remaining eight AGCom Members are appointed by the Parliament, four by
the House of Representatives and four by the Senate. Each Member of Parliament can
vote for two candidates, one for the CSP and one for the Commission for the CIN.
AGCom’s status as an ‘independent authority’ implies that it is not accountable to the
Government and that it should not be subject to any sort of political influence. Law 14
November 1995, no. 481 sets out the eligibility requirements, cases of incompatibility,
confidentiality obligations and remuneration of AGCom Members. To be eligible, AGCom
Members must be endowed with an undisputed expertise and competence in the relevant
sector. AGCom Members cannot exercise, directly or indirectly, consultancy or
professional activities, be managers or employees of public and private entities, hold
public offices of any nature, including positions in political parties, or have any interest,
direct or indirect, in any undertakings active in the sector within the purview of AGCom.
Although those institutional arrangements formally safeguard AGCom’s independence, a
recent study has expressed concerns over the “vague nomination and appointment
procedure” of AGCom Members. 74 In particular, the independent experts interviewed in
the context of that study suggested that the current procedure might provide suboptimal
outcomes in terms of i) expertise and qualification of AGCom Members (as no specific
requirements are set out in that respect); ii) AGCom Members’ independence from
political parties, whose balances in the Italian Parliament tend to be reflected in
administrative and governmental bodies (lottizzazione). As to the latter aspect, the
above study reported that, in June 2010, one of AGCOM’s commissioners resigned
following a judicial inquiry into alleged pressures applied by the then Prime Minister Mr.
Silvio Berlusconi in order to stop certain broadcasts on RAI that were highly critical
towards the government. 75
 “Pursuit of Core Activity”
- Ordinary law safeguards for journalistic activity
In order to safeguard the independence of journalistic activity from the government, the
seizure of press is permitted only in connection with criminal offences for which the Press
Law expressly requires seizure, only for printed materials that have already been
published, and only in the presence of a Court order. 76 In cases of urgency, when
obtaining a court order is unfeasible, law enforcement agencies can autonomously seize
printed publications, but must notify the court having jurisdiction of the seizure. 77 That
court must uphold the seizure within 24 hours, otherwise the seizure becomes
ineffective. 78
Journalists’ independence from the political leanings of the newspaper they work for is
ensured by the so-called Conscience Clause (clausola di coscienza), included in the
collective agreement entered into between the National Federation of Italian Journalists
(Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana) and the Italian Federation of Newspaper
Publishers (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali). 79 Under the conscience clause, a
74
75
76
77
78
79
See Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research et al., INDIREG, Preliminary final report, 285-287, available
at:
http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/docs/library/studies/regulators/final_report.pdf , pp. 286-287.
Ibid., p. 130 and p. 285.
See Article 21, para 3 of the Constitution.
See Article 21, para 4 of the Constitution.
See Article 21, para 5 of the Constitution.
Contratto Nazionale di Lavoro Giornalistico 2009-2013, available at:
http://www.fnsi.it/Download/CNLG_FNSI_FIEG_2009_2013.pdf.
322
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
journalist is entitled to unilaterally terminate his or her employment relationship, with full
economic benefits, in case of a significant shift in the newspaper’s political alignment. 80
Turning to journalists’ protection against “silencing” libel and defamation claims, some
judgements of the Court of Cassation 81 suggest that the right to report exercised by
journalists enjoys stronger protection relative to other forms of expression, insofar as
journalists facing defamation charges may rely on specific affirmative defences. In fact,
the preferential status accorded to the right to report does not stem from Article 21 of
the Constitution (which protects all forms of expression alike) but from the Criminal
Code, according to which one cannot be punished for exercising his or her rights. 82 The
Constitutional Court endorsed this view. 83 The Court of Cassation, moreover, delivered a
landmark ruling (known as the ‘Decalogue Ruling’) summarizing the three requirements
that must be met for the exercise of freedom of the press not to give rise to liability: i)
the diffusion of the news must be socially useful; ii) the reported facts must be true, and
iii) the representation and assessment of fact must be sober and fair. 84 The Court of
Cassation subsequently added a fourth requirement, i.e. the timeliness of the news, 85
which rests on the recognition of the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. 86
The Journalist Profession Law expressly requires journalists and publishers to maintain
professional secrecy about the source of the news when it is necessary due to
confidentiality of the news. 87 That provision, however, does not expressly state that
journalists and editors can lawfully refuse to disclose the identity of their source if so
requested by a court. 88
The Code of Penal Procedure, enacted in 1988, provides that registered professional
journalists cannot be required to divulge the names of the people from which they
obtained confidential information in the exercise of their profession. 89 That privilege only
applies to registered professional journalists (not to publicists and trainees) 90 and covers
the name of the informant as well as any information (e.g. telephone numbers) 91 that
could lead to his or her identification. 92
The protection of journalistic sources envisaged by the Code of Penal Procedure,
however, is qualified by the power vested in courts to enjoin journalists to disclose their
sources if the relevant information are indispensable to prove the crime being
investigated and if the truthfulness thereof can only be established by identifying the
source. 93 It is apparent from the wording of the Code of Penal Procedure that the said
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
Ibid., Article 32.
See, e.g., Court of Cassation, Judgment of 31 May 1966, no. 1446; Judgment of 21 December 1967, no.
3003.
See G. Gardini, Le Regole dell’Informazione. Principi giuridici, strumenti, casi, (Milan: Bruno Mondadori,
2009) 34.
Constitutional Court, Judgment no. 175 of 1971.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5259/1984.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 3679 of 1998. See also Tribunale di Bari, Judgment of 27 settembre
2008 (holding that making an article published at an earlier time available through an online database
does not infringe the right of privacy or the right to be forgotten).
But see A. Pace and M. Manetti, ‘Art. 21: la libertà di manifestazione del proprio pensiero’, ed. G. Branca
and A. Pizzorusso, Commentario della Costituzione (Bologna: Zanichelli, 2006) 133-134 (arguing that the
demand not to write about a particolar subject has an ‘inherently censorial content’ and that a full-fledged
right to be forgotten has no clear legal basis in Italian law).
Article 2, paragraph 3 of the Journalist Profession Law.
See A. Pace and M. Manetti, ‘Art. 21: la libertà di manifestazione del proprio pensiero’, ed. G. Branca and
A. Pizzorusso, Commentario della Costituzione (Bologna: Zanichelli, 2006) 341-342.
See the first sentence of Article 200, para 3, of the Code of Penal Procedure (1988).
But See P. Caretti, Diritto pubblico dell’informazione (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1994) 64 (criticizing that
limitation).
See Court of Cassation, Judgment of 21 January 2004, no. 22397.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment of 16 February 2007, no. 25755.
See the last sentence of Article 200, para 3, of the Code of Penal Procedure (1988).
323
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
power can be exercised by courts only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. if the informant
is the only witness who can prove the innocence of the defendant). 94
As to the liability of journalists, the case law has set some legal limits to their right to
report and comment (diritto di cronaca e di critica). 95 In particular, the Court of
Cassation, in the aforementioned ‘Decalogue Ruling’, is of relevance here. 96
The social utility criterion, the first criterion established by the Court, implies that the
right to report and comment can only lawfully encroach upon other rights, such as the
right to privacy, if it can contribute to the formation of public opinion about facts of
objective relevance for the society as a whole. 97
The (second) truthfulness criterion is expressly recognised as one of the basic duties of
the journalistic profession by Law no. 69/63. 98 The notion of ‘truthfulness’ postulates an
exact match between events as they are reported by the journalist and events as they
actually occurred. 99 Mere verisimilitude does not meet the truthfulness requirement.100
Accordingly, journalists are under an obligation to carefully and diligently check their
sources. 101 Reported news, moreover, must also be comprehensive, as an incomplete
account of a fact could substantially distort or misrepresent its significance. 102
The fair representation and comment criterion implies that, thirdly, the exercise of the
freedom of the press must neither go beyond the goal to inform the audience nor cause
harm to the reputation of the persons concerned. The Court of Cassation, in particular,
took the view that this criterion is not met when journalists employ subterfuges such as
skilful innuendos, evocative juxtapositions and a disproportionately outraged tone. 103
The fourth requirement, i.e. the timeliness of the news rests on the recognition of the socalled ‘right to be forgotten’: 104 even if the facts reported are true and accurate, every
person has the right not to be indefinitely exposed to further discomfort or
embarrassment as it may result from the repeated publication of facts lawfully disclosed
at an earlier time. In those cases, it is necessary to determine whether there is a
renewed or ongoing public interest in learning about facts reported at an earlier time.
The right to publish documents issued by public entities is an important indicator of the
true democratic character of a given legal system. In this connection, regard must be
had to documents covered by the so-called “secret of state”. The Constitutional Court
ruled that the secret of state is not incompatible with the Constitution, insofar as it is
designed to protect national security as per Article 126 of the Constitution. 105
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
See A. Pace and M. Manetti, ‘Art. 21: la libertà di manifestazione del proprio pensiero’, ed. G. Branca and
A. Pizzorusso, Commentario della Costituzione (Bologna: Zanichelli, 2006) 344.
See, e.g., Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5941 of 2000; no. 747 of 2000; no. 8035 of 1998; no. 2113
of 1997; no. 40415 of 2004.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5259/1984.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 1473 of 1998.
See Article 2 of Law no. 69 of 1963.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5491 of 2000.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 8848 of 1997.
See, e.g., Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 2173 of 1993; no. 5259 of 1984; no. 7747 of 1997.
See, e.g., Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5259 of 1984; no. 1904 of 2003.
See Court of Cassation, Judgment no. 5259 of 1984.
But see A. Pace and M. Manetti, ‘Art. 21: la libertà di manifestazione del proprio pensiero’, ed. G. Branca
and A. Pizzorusso, Commentario della Costituzione (Bologna: Zanichelli, 2006) 133-134 (arguing that the
demand not to write about a particolar subject has an ‘inherently censorial content’ and that a full-fledged
right to be forgotten has no clear legal basis in Italian law).
See Constitutional Court, Order no. 49/1977 and Judgment nos. 82/1977 and 86/1977.
324
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
The scope of the secret of state has been recently clarified by Law No. 124 of 2007.106
According to Article 39 thereof, the secret of state covers all acts, documents, facts, and
activities whose disclosure may undermine the integrity, independence and defence of
the state, its relations with other states, or the functioning of state institutions and
bodies of constitutional relevance. Some scholars have argued that this definition
oversteps the boundaries set by the Constitutional Court as to the permissible scope of
the secret of state. 107
Article 261 of the Penal Code provides that the disclosure of information covered by the
secret of state is punishable by imprisonment of at least five years. Article 262 of the
Penal Code criminalizes the disclosure of news which the competent authority required
not to be made public. Disclosing and obtaining such news are punishable by at least
three years of imprisonment. The Constitutional Court clarified that the news covered by
Article 262 of the Penal Code are akin to those covered by the secret of state, in that i)
they must concern a state interest of compelling importance, and ii) their disclosure must
be such as to appreciably undermine that interest. The characterization of a given piece
of information as ‘classified’ by a public authority does not automatically trigger Article
262 of the Penal Code: it is for courts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether the
two requirements above are met. 108
The publication of court documents, especially those concerning pre-trial investigations,
involves a balancing exercise between, on the one hand, citizens’ right to be informed
about court cases and journalists’ role as watchdogs of society and, on the other one,
that the course of justice is not perverted by undue information leaks. In this connection,
the Constitutional Court has ruled that some court documents can be subject to
investigative secrecy (segreto istruttorio) and that it is up to the legislature to strike a
balance between the freedom of expression and the administration of justice. 109
Investigative secrecy is governed by Article 329 of the Code of Penal Procedure.
Documents and reports by the Public Prosecutor or by law enforcement agencies are
subject to investigative secrecy until the defendant is entitled to access those documents
and, in any case, until the completion of pre-trial investigations. 110 For investigative
purposes, the Public Prosecutor may consent to the publication of specific documents
covered by investigative secrecy 111 and may forbid the publication of documents not
subject to investigative secrecy. 112
The rules concerning the publication of court documents are set out in Article 114 of the
Code of Penal Procedure. Paragraph 1 thereof proscribes the publication, also in part or
in summary form, of investigation documents covered by investigative secrecy as well as
of their contents. Investigation documents not subject to investigative secrecy can be
published only after the completion of pre-trial investigation. Their contents, instead, can
be published at all times. If the trial reaches the hearing stage, court documents can only
be published, in whole or in part, after the judgment is delivered. In the case of closed-
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
Law 3 August 2007, no. 124, OJIR 13 August 2007, no. 187.
P. Pisa, Le premesse ‘sostanziali’ della normativa sul segreto di Stato, 37.
See Constitutional Court, Judgment nos. 282/1990, 333/1991 and 295/2002.
See Constitutional Court, Judgment no. 25/1965. For commentaries, See V. Crisafulli, In tema di limiti alla
cronaca giudiziaria, Giurisprudenza costituzionale, 1965, 245; V. Barosio, Il divieto di pubblicare atti o
documenti relativi ad una istruzione penale e la sua compatibilità con gli artt. 3 e 21 Cost., Giurisprudenza
costituzionale, 1966, 176.
Article 329, para 1, of the Code of Penal Procedure.
Article 329, para 2, of the Code of Penal Procedure.
Article 329, para 3, of the Code of Penal Procedure.
325
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
door hearings, 113 instead, court documents can only be published ten years after the final
judgment is rendered and upon authorization by the Minister of Justice.
The identity and image of minors involved in criminal proceedings as witnesses or victims
cannot be disclosed until they reach the age of eighteen. It is also forbidden to publish
images depicting the defendant in handcuffs or other restraints, unless the defendant
consents to the publication.
The publication of wiretap transcripts has recently given rise to a lively political and legal
debate. The Constitutional Court has cautioned against the reckless publication of wiretap
transcripts involving elected officials as undue means of political pressure. 114 The Italian
Data Protection Authority, in turn, has repeatedly urged journalists to adopt a more
cautious approach in publishing wiretap transcripts of famous people or elected officials
as doing so could significantly undermine their right to privacy. 115
The Government in 2008 proposed an outright ban on the publication of wiretap
transcripts (the so-called ‘Alfano Bill’), 116 but the bill was eventually dropped in view of
the strong opposition of the public opinion and of the concerns raised by some academic
commentators as to the consistency of the bill with the Constitution and with the
ECHR. 117
Absent specific rules on the publication of wiretap transcripts, regard must be had to the
guiding principles set out in Article 6 of the Code of Practice Concerning the Processing of
Personal Data in the Exercise of Journalistic Activities (PDCP). 118 Compliance with those
provisions is a precondition for the lawful processing of personal data for journalistic
purposes as per Article 137, para. 3 PDPC.
Article 6 PDCP provides that disclosure of information of substantial public or social
interest is consistent with the right to privacy so long as such piece of information is
indispensable in view of the originality of the relevant event or of the status of the
persons involved. Accordingly, the right to privacy of famous persons and persons
holding public offices must be respected if the disclosed information is not relevant to
their public role.
Law 281 of 2006 grants a remedy to people harmed by the publication of the contents of
illegal wiretapping (i.e. carried out in the absence of a court order): the publisher and the
responsible editor are jointly and severally liable up to fifty euro cents for each printed
113
114
115
116
117
118
See Article 472, paras. 1 and 2, of the Code of Penal Procedure.
Judgment no. 390/2007.
See Personal Data Protection Autority, Decision of 21 June 2006, ‘Publishing Transcripts of Tapping
Records’, OJIR 21 June 2006, no. 147, available in English at:
http://www.garanteprivacy.it/garante/doc.jsp?ID=1301195.
Chamber of Deputies, Legislative Proposal no. 1415, submitted by the Minister of Justice Mr. Angelino
Alfano on 30 June 2008, available at:
http://www.camera.it/_dati/leg16/lavori/stampati/pdf/16PDL0005770.pdf.
See D. Gallo, La riforma delle intercettazioni nel d.d.l. Alfano, Costituzionalismo.it, 2009, 25 et seq.,
available at: http://www.costituzionalismo.it/articolo.asp?id=325; F. Ruggieri, Il disegno di legge
governativo sulle intercettazioni: poche note positive e molte perplessità, Cassazione penale, 2008, 2239
et seq.; L. Della Corte, R. Paudice and I. Vozzo, La disciplina delle intercettazioni (DDL Alfano) alla luce del
principio della libertà di espressione garantita dalla Carta Costituzionale e dalla Convenzione Europea dei
Diritti dell’Uomo, Report of the research group directed by Professor R. Mastroianni presented on 15 July
2009, available at: http://www.odg.it/files/Rapporto%20contro%20Alfano.pdf.
See R. Zaccaria and A. Valastro, Diritto dell’informazione e della comunicazione (Padua: Cedam, 2010)
157; D. Piccione, Diritto di cronaca giornalistica dei parlamentari e pubblicazioni delle intercettazioni
telefoniche a loro carico, Giurisprudenza costituzionale, 2008 1573 et seq.
326
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
copy of the offending article or up to one million Euros if the transcripts were disclosed
through radio, television, or the internet. 119
- Specific positive content obligations
In addition to the specific positive content obligation that are comprised in the PSM remit
(see above “legal framework for public service media operations”) and to the ones
imposed on all broadcasters in the field of political communication (see below “political
advertising and/or broadcasting time”), Article 7, paragraph 1, CLARMS stipulates that
‘the provision of information through audiovisual media services by any broadcaster or
content provider constitutes a service of general interest’ and is accordingly subject to a
number of horizontal obligations (the truthful presentation of facts and events, the
obligation to broadcast news programmes every day, the duty to grant access to all
political subjects etc.).
- Funding schemes for specifically desired content
The press is the beneficiary of various forms of financial support from the State. The
beneficiaries of direct aid are listed in Article 9 of Law no. 67 of 1987. They include inter
alia: i) cooperatives publishing newspapers; ii) publishing companies that pledge not to
distribute dividends and profits to shareholders; iii) companies publishing newspapers or
periodicals that are organs of a political party.
The affiliation to a political party of a given newspaper or periodical must be apparent
from its masthead. The law, however, does not impose any substantive content
requirements in this connection.
Newspapers and periodicals that are organs of a political party are entitled to both a flat
subsidy equal to 30% of the average costs incurred during the last two financial years
and a variable subsidy to be determined according to their circulation.
Such a financing scheme has given rise to heated criticism which ultimately led the
government to announce the phasing out of the current scheme and a new subsidization
scheme that will enter into force 2014. The new scheme will impose stricter requirements
as to the costs that can be taken into account for the purpose of calculation of the flat
subsidy and will only have regard to the number of sold copies for the purpose of
calculation of the variable subsidy (thus excluding copies distributed through
newsboys). 120
- Political advertising and/or broadcasting time
The Constitutional Court has expressly recognised the right to fair representation in
election periods. 121 According to academic commentators, that right stems from the
Constitutional principles of freedom of expression (Article 21), freedom of association
(Article 49), equal access to public offices (Article 51), and popular sovereignty (Article 1,
paragraph 2). 122
119
120
121
122
Article 4 of Law 20 November 2006, no. 281, OJIR 21 November 2006, no. 271.
See
http://www.corriere.it/economia/12_maggio_11/riforma-editoria_d64bb80c-9b63-11e1-81bc34fceaba092f.shtml.
See e.g. Constitutional Court Judgment nos. 48/1964, 161/1995, 155/2002.
See R. Zaccaria and A. Valastro, Diritto dell’informazione e della comunicazione (Padua: Cedam, 2010)
362.
327
Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs
Law no. 28 of 2000, as amended by Law no. 313 of 2003, seeks to ensure a level playing
field for all political actors both during the electoral period and outside that period. 123
That law applies to three categories of programmes: political communication
programmes, information programmes, and self-managed slots (messaggi autogestiti).
Political communication programmes include all broadcasts entailing a political opinion or
assessment, but not the diffusion of news in information programmes. Information
programmes, which account for the most significant part of the political debate on
television, also include the presentation of news in a narrative or argumentative
context. 124 Self-managed slots are airtime portions of a predetermined duration allotted
to a plurality of political actors where the latter can inform the public about their platform
or programme.
Those three categories of programmes are subject to a number of general requirements,
plus some specific rules during electoral periods. If broadcasters fall short of those rules,
AGCom can impose sanctions either by its own motion or following a request by the
political actor concerned. Those sanctions may seek to restore the balance by granting
the harmed party additional time in the course of political communication programmes or
additional self-managed slots. In case of serious violations, AGCom may enjoin the
broadcaster concerned to give notice of the infringement decision and, if necessary, to air
a reply by the harmed party, which must be given the same visibility (in terms of timeslot, presentation etc.) as the offending broadcast. Broadcasters may challenge the
above decisions before administrative courts. 125
Political communication in electoral periods can only take place in the form of political
forums, debates, round tables, adversarial presentation of candidates and political
programs, interviews and any other form that allows the comparison between the
political positions and candidates. 126 Self-managed slots during electoral periods are
subject to stringent rules as to their remuneration and allotment to political actors. 127
Turning to information programmes, for each electoral campaign the Parliamentary
Supervision Committee and AGCom adopt ad hoc regulations laying down detailed rules
for those programmes during the electoral period. 128 AGCom also establishes a ‘par
condicio’ task force to monitor compliance with those rules.
On the days of the elections it is forbidden for all television broadcasts to provide, either
directly or indirectly, voting suggestions or to express voting preferences. 129 Programme
presenters and anchorpersons are required to behave in a fair and impartial so as not to
exert a disguised influence on the audience’s freedom of vote. 130 Moreover, in the fifteen
days preceding the elections it is forbidden to publish or otherwise disseminate the
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
Article 1 of Law 28 of 2000.
Constitutional Court, Judgment no. 155/2002.
Article 10 of Law no. 28 of 2000.
Article 4, para 1, of Law no. 28 of 2000.
Article 4 of Law no. 28 of 2000.
See, e.g, AGCom Decision no. 153/11/CSP, Disposizioni di attuazione della disciplina in materia di
comunicazione politica e di parità di accesso ai mezzi di informazione relative alla campagna per i
referendum consultivi indetti dal Comune di Milano per i giorni 12 e 13 giugno 2011; no. 151/11/CSP,
Ordine conformativo alla Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana Spa per l’effettivo rispetto della deliberazione della
Commissione parlamentare per l’indirizzo generale e la vigilanza sui servizi radiotelevisivi recante
‘Disposizioni in materia di comunicazione politica, messaggi autogestiti e informazione della concessionaria
pubblica nonché tribune relative alla campagna per i referendum popolari indetti per i giorni 12 e 13
giugno 2011; no. 152/11/CSP, Invito alle emittenti televisive nazionali private ad assicurare l’informazione
sui referendum popolari indetti per i giorni del 12 e 13 giugno 2011.
Article 5, para 2, of Law no. 28 of 2000.
Article 5, para 3, of Law no. 28 of 2000.
328
The Citizens' Right to Information: Law and Policy in the EU and its Member States
results of opinion polls on the outcome of elections and the political orientations of
voters, even if such surveys were prepared at an earlier date.131
- Codes of conduct and their organisational framing
The bulwark of journalists’ independence vis-à-vis the bargaining power of publishers is
the Press Council (Ordine dei Giornalisti). 132 The Journalist Profession Law grants the
Press Council a broad discretion in the establishment and enforcement of rules of
professional ethics.
Article 2 thereof sets out a broad statement that journalists are entitled to report and to
comment within the limits set by the law and by the need to protect personal identity.
Journalists, moreover, are under an unconditional obligation to uphold the truth and to
act in a dutiful and fair manner.
The Constitutional Court has expressly recognised the Council’s role in safeguarding the
independence of its affiliates. 133 Some scholarly commentators, however, have voiced
doubts about the ability of a body constraining journalists’ freedom to effectively
safeguard their independence. 134
The Press Council was established in 1925, 135 but it was only in 1963 that, at the request
of journalists, the Parliament passed the Journalist Profession Law which remodelled the
Press Council’s and restored its exclusive competence to keep the Journalists’ Roll.
The Press Council consists of twenty Regional Boards (one for each Italian Region) and a
National Board. Regional Boards are composed of six Professional Journalists and three
publicists elected by the professional journalists and publicits registered in the
Journalists’ Roll kept by that Board. 136 Regional Board Members remain in office for thr